Students from Clewiston High School’s Criminal Justice Program enjoyed a successful week at a state-wide competition held in Ocala earlier this month.
A total of 23 students from the program, 19 of which were freshman, traveled to Ocala for a conference and competition held March 3 through 7, and competed against other criminal justice chapters from around the state.
The competition was held at the Hilton Hotel and challenged students in various events, including routine traffic stops, felony traffic stops, obstacle courses, trivia, report writing and job seeking skills.
Clewiston’s students performed extremely well at the competition, bringing home 16 trophies and over $12,000 in scholarship opportunities. Of the 14 chapters competing, Clewiston ranked fifth overall and was voted most professional chapter in the state of Florida.
“We’re very proud of the work they did. They worked very, very hard,” said Tammy Bunting, president of the parent booster club and one of five chaperones at the week-long competition. “The competitions were very interesting and the kids really enjoyed it. I think they got a lot out of it, a lot of experience that they can use in their chosen field.”
Bunting lauded the criminal justice program and the opportunities it presents to the students who participate.
The program helps students work towards a career in law enforcement and provides valuable experience and career advancement opportunities. Certain certificates are available to students who have completed four years with the program upon graduation, allowing them to enter the workforce in their chosen field fully prepared and with references. Students, for instance, can be hired at a college or university to work as a security guard and receive an employee discount while taking classes at the same school.
Bunting said people don’t really know about the program and the amazing opportunities it offers students.
“I didn’t know about it until my daughter got involved. … It’s an awesome program. And every year, they try to get more people involved,” she said.
The competition in Ocala is also looking to make this a national event, inviting schools from around the country to compete.
They are also looking for more businesses to provide scholarship opportunities for the students.
This year’s competition was the fifth year that Clewiston High School’s criminal justice students participated. Their impressive performance highlights the hard work they put into their studies and makes them a viable competitor for next year’s competition.
Kristine Petersen, head of the criminal justice program at Clewiston High School, was also impressed by the students’ performance and professionalism at the competition.
“You can give them [the students] uniforms, but it’s up to them how they’re going to wear them,” she said.