Lejeune High School (LHS) student Elizabeth Schwend watched as her older brother Anthony captained the school’s Quiz Bowl team.

This year, the sophomore is taking over for her brother and looks to bring similar success to this year’s team.

“Last year, my brother was leading the team,” said Schwend. “We had fantastic leadership. It is different this year, and I have always been the one to take charge during group projects. This is a small team and we know each other pretty well.”

The Quiz Bowl team is a sector of the LHS Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program (JROTC). Students have the option to take part in the cyberpatriot, shooting, raider, stellar explorer, orienteering and drill team programs as cadets of the JROTC program.

Jim Gardiner, Quiz Bowl team coach, said the team is in first place in the Down East League, which includes New Bern, West Carteret, Havelock and Pamlico County high schools. On Jan. 31, the team finished fourth in a competition at New Bern High School.

“They are intellectual kids who are the best and the brightest,” Gardiner said of the team members. “Our senior class kids are on the cyberpatriot team who work with the Air Force Association. Some of the kids are stellar explorers who work with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and then we have the kids who are on the Quiz Bowl team. We have kids in all of the military branches right now who were cyberpatriots.”

Gardiner runs the JROTC program to prepare students for life after high school graduation.

“The things we lean on are the ones that the students can take to the future,” said Gardiner. “This is an academic team, and I want them to empower themselves so they can be good students.”

The Devil Pups have a history of strong performances in the Quiz Bowl. LHS won two straight titles in 2015 and 2016. Last school year, the squad placed second.

“This is my first year doing JROTC, and last year a lot of my friends were part of JROTC,” said Niklas Cooper, a LHS sophomore who is a member of the Quiz Bowl team. “I wanted to step up so I joined the academic, drill and possibly raider team.”

Cooper said being a part of the Quiz Bowl team is just another way to be part of the high school.

“I like to be involved with school, and a lot of us are involved with sports,” said Cooper. “We want to be able say that we accomplished a lot and are well-rounded. I really like Lejeune High School because it is smaller and it is easier to get involved.”

Karl Benson, a LHS sophomore member of the team, said four members make up a team at a competition. With JROTC programs making up the league, questions are mostly related to the military. Teams with correct answers get a point, and the team with the most points wins.

Benson said he enjoys the challenge of questions involving Navy terminology and naval rank structures.

“I joined the team because I like military knowledge,” said Benson. “Our captain, Elizabeth Schwend, asked me to join the team. We all bring our unique characteristics, coming from different places of the country. We go through rigorous training, going through a thick of packet of questions that we need to learn.”

The LHS Quiz Bowl team is scheduled to compete Feb. 21 at West Carteret High School in Morehead City.