HCHS Raider team first in region


Chris Hill

The Harlan County High School Raider team is currently ranked first in the region after a strong showing earlier this month at Whitley County. Squad members include, from left, front row: Allan Adams, Devin Mefford, Tessa Allen, Danielle Lee, Gary Burkhart, Marvin Williams, Brooke Lewis, Shayla Hamblin, Megan Barton, Layne Jones, Abigail Williams, Logan Bilbery and John Collett; second row: Ethan Caldwell, Stephen Day, Ryan Anderson, Cody Hall, Chelsey Cornett, Charles Skidmore, Stephen Snyder, Devin Couch and Brittany Thomas; back row: Willie Doan, Shawn Warren, Tyler Risner, Dewayne Kelly, Dalton Barton and Nick Coots.

With 124 students enrolled in the JROTC classes he leads, Maj. Tim McElyea oversees the largest program at Harlan County High School and one of the most successful.

Harlan County is currently ranked first in the region coming off a strong showing at a meet on Oct. 8 at Whitley County High School. HCHS placed second overall to Campbell County, Tennessee, and first among eastern Kentucky teams. Other schools represented at the meet included Montgomery County, Rockcastle County, Clay County, Corbin, Southwestern, Madison Central, Whitley County, McCreary Central and Thomas Walker, Virginia.

“Our Raider team is off to another good start this year. We have four trophies and 16 medals in the two meets so far,” McElyea said. “We have good numbers and a real strong group of freshmen. Our battalion has a good mixture of veterans and rookies.” Harlan County won the color guard competition, beating the other 10 teams at the event.

“It was no easy accomplishment,” McElyea said. “Our color guard is very impressive.”

Harlan County was also first in the tug of war and took second in the obstacle course competition and fourth in the one-rope bridge drill and fourth in the squad drill, earning 16 medals overall.

McElyea, who served in the U.S. Army for 21 years as a combat engineer, has helped lead the HCHS Black Bear Battalion since 2010. He is assisted by 1st Sgt. Daniel Tuttle, who has 24 years of service in the infantry. McElyea said one of the major goals of the program is to help provide and teach discipline to students.

“We try to motivate young people to be better citizens,” McElyea said. “We try to teach the values of citizenship, service to the United States and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.”

JROTC members assist with numerous projects at HCHS, including helping with blood drives and handling parking at sporting events at the school, along with cleaning up at the school and the campus and taking care of the Black Bear paw art work on the hill at the school.

Harlan County will host a Raider meet on Oct. 29 and will travel to Thomas Walker, Virginia on Nov. 5 and Campbell County, Tennessee on Nov. 19.