Before, they were just a bunch of timid kids. But now, the students from McQueen's junior ROTC program, say they're a close group of confident leaders.
One hundred, sixty students participated in the Annual Formal Inspections at McQueen's gym on Wednesday. That's something that probably doesn't sound too exciting for most teenagers, but these students say that's what makes this program so special.
"Everyone enjoys coming here and showing up early, doing their part and showing off the school pride and everything," says Rick Romero, a McQueen senior. "I think that's where a lot of enthusiasm comes from."
Cadets say that's spilling over to the rest of the campus and making the program more popular than ever.
Melodye Mericle is the Battalion Commander and a senior at McQueen. She says the program provides a more intimate setting, you don't see in the school's hallways.
"This program provides a family for high school students," says Mericle. "When they come into ROTC, they have a support group. So, all of a sudden, as a little freshman, you have juniors and seniors that actually want to talk to you and are interested in what you're doing."
The camaraderie and close attention to detail showed during Wednesday's inspection, which earned all participants high marks from their superiors and a very special guest.
Frank Boyd taught at the school for 16 years and helped out with the inspections. The Seniors leading the Battalion were freshman when Boyd taught his final year at McQueen. He says he can't believe how much they've matured.
"Now they have developed in four years to be what they are today," says Boyd. "Leading this 120-person battalion."
All Washoe County comprehensive high schools have had ROTC since 1919, making this the only district in the country to have that distinction.