2011-02-16 / Front Page

BOE approves JROTC at ECHS

MISSION STATEMENT: To motivate young people to be better citizens

JROTC is coming to Early County High School the next school year. The Early County Board of Education approved the curriculum addition at their Feb. 8 meeting at the Early County Middle School media center.

ECSS Superintendent Thomas Challender said the move is a “good thing for our kids” adding that it also offered different curriculum and extracurricular options for students.

Some 43 schools across the country opened Army JROTC programs this fall as part of an expansion that eventually will put 2,000 programs – up from 1,600 – under the umbrella of U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees battalions at the high school and collegiate levels. The goal of educational leadership is to capitalize on the program’s proven record of transforming mediocre students into good ones and good students into great ones.

The new schools represent a significant change in the way programs are being funded. No longer are they simply OK’d on desire.

Approvals are based on need.

“The intent is to go to high schools where a JROTC program will make a difference,” said Col. John Vanderbleek, director of Army JROTC. “The goal is to position students for success after high school.”

While JROTC is often associated with military recruitment, it is actually a leadership development curriculum which seeks to motivate young people to be better citizens. Only 20 percent of JROTC cadets go on to enter the military, while the majority of cadet graduates head to college or technical schools.

The program focuses on building confidence, developing leadership skills, citizenship and personal responsibility. In addition to coursework which includes geography, citizenship, math and fitness, the program also offers team and leadership building activities.

Surveys of schools with JROTC programs have shown increased graduation rates, better grades, improved attendance and fewer discipline problems.

The program serves high school students and has four levels of study. ECHS will offer the first level next year and will add a level each year until all four are in place.

The U.S. Army provides the curriculum, equipment, books and other program supplies as well as partial reimbursement for instructor salaries. ECSS will be responsible for providing classroom, office and storage space for the program as well as partial instructor salaries.

A list of recommended instructors will be provided to ECSS by the Army and the school system will make the actual personnel selection. Instructors are retired military who meet requirements set by the Army, which also provides all instructor training.

The main instructor should be selected by July 1 and an assistant will be in place by the start of school and the JROTC program July 28.

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