2/27/14 PREP ROTC GOING STRONG
|'It's about getting you prepared for life'|
Photos by Sam Roberts / Times-News
Above, the Western Alamance High School Navy Junior Reserve Offi cers Training Corps participates in a drill demonstration during their program and pass in review ceremony held Wednesday in the school gymnasium.
PREP ROTC GOING STRONG
More than 100 Western Alamance students help lead junior naval program
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 2/27/14
Reprinted with permission.
ELON — The Western Alamance High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is one of a shrinking number of programs like it, but it’s a strong one.
The cadets looked smart in their uniforms, and their drills were precise and professional during their inspection Wednesday.
“I’ve been coming to Western Alamance for about 10 years now, and you’ve never looked better,” said Cmdr. Griffith Jones, NJROTC area manager for North and South Carolina.
Jones was in Elon to inspect Western’s program, which is part of how the Navy determines whether to keep sponsoring it.
The program did well. Many cadets received awards for military bearing, appearance, professionalism and leadership abilities.
The cadets run the program under Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Tyler LaPlaca.
Cmdr. Gregory Erickson, senior naval science instructor at Western, is a recently retired 20-year Navy veteran and NJROTC alumnus. He teaches and oversees the program.
THERE ARE ABOUT 600 NJROTC programs across the country, Erickson said. In the past few years, the Navy has closed, or disestablished, programs across the country in the face of tight budgets.
While schools can apply to start programs, the Naval service Training Command is not adding new units.
According to news releases, the Navy disestablished at least 57 programs in 2011 and 2012. Generally they were already on probation for having too few cadets.
As in most extra-curriculars, Erickson said, students tend to come and go from NJROTC, but the program had well over 100 students this year and a core of student leaders.
While many of the cadets have plans to join the military, most will not.
“Most of you are never going to wear a uniform after high school,” Jones told the cadets. “(This is) not about the uniform; it’s not about the drill; it’s about getting you prepared for life.”
The program does offer help to students going to college ROTC and the military.
Cadet Lauren Kerr, the program’s public affairs officer, said high school ROTC helps with college scholarships and opens leadership opportunities in college ROTC programs.
JOSEPH LONG, 15, is a cadet seaman in his first semester in NJROTC. A cadet officer came to football practice recruiting, he said. He liked what he heard about improving his leadership skills and character.
“I’d like to go to The Citadel or the Naval Academy after high school,” Long said.
Those who go straight into a military branch enter at a higher rank, Kerr said — as Petty Officer 3rd Class Raven Spencer, 16, knows.
“I’m leaning toward Army or Marines,” Spencer said. “It’s given me drill experience, and it’s going to start me off with a higher pay rate.”
|The ceremony continues.|