Tuesday, June 29, 2010
JROTC Cadets Learn Valuable Lessons
June 29, 2010 - OAK HARBOR, Wash (NNS) -- Students from various high schools participated in Northwest Navy Junior Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) Leadership Academy June 19-26.
The Leadership Academy is designed to teach high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to the community, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. It prepares high school students for leadership roles while making them aware of their rights, responsibilities, and privileges as American citizens.
"We have a number of programs for the kids to participate in. We have seven different types of teams. Which includes drill (unarmed and armed), color guard, physical fitness, academic, marksmanship and an orienteering [map and compass land navigation]," said retired Navy Cmdr. Rick Gile, senior naval science instructor at Everett High School.
The group of 110 was comprised of students from JROTC Area 13, which encompasses schools from Japan, Guam, Hawaii, northern California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska and Nebraska.
JROTC is a course of instruction taught for academic credit in high schools by retired commissioned and noncommissioned officers.
"I think, personally, that the high school ROTC cadets are the cream of the high schools. The one thing I like about the program is that it is an inclusive program, instead of an exclusive program," said Gile. "With this program, everyone is welcome."
The program is a stimulus for promoting graduation from high school, and it provides instruction and rewarding opportunities that will benefit the students and the community.
Upon arrival, students get settled in, receive academic training and a physical fitness test. They are divided into platoons of 25 to 30 and are given a platoon leader who guides them throughout the week.
Platoon handlers, which are comprised of both instructors and 12 active-duty Marines assigned to commands around Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, see them through their academic training in classrooms and field drills where cadets practice physical fitness such as survival training.
"We teach them leadership and discipline, we also help them on drill movements, and we get them involved in military life," said Marine Staff Sgt. Adrian Martinez of Beaumont, Texas, platoon handler and instructor in Electronic Countermeasures at Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Whidbey Island.
In classes such as leadership labs, physical training and field training exercises, students learn firsthand what it takes to lead others and motivate groups.
"We conduct a leadership-building problem solving exercise in which each platoon is broken down and they are given what looks like silly games, but within these games are serious lessons about what makes us better citizens, what makes us good leaders and followers, and how, we as a collective group, as a team, solve a fairly complex problem," said Gile.
The team-building portion included exercises such as the trust lean and trust lift, wind in the willows, a mine field, in which students must navigate their blind-folded partner through without hitting a mine using verbal communication only, and a disappearing bridge, where the group must get everyone to the other side using only provided materials.
"They are doing excellent. They're a little rusty in the beginning, but they're all coming along just like boot camp," said Martinez.
"It wasn't what I thought it would be; it's very intense [compared to] what I'm used to where I'm from," said Christian Dunean, from Yokosuka, Japan and a student at Nile C. Kinnick High School. "This program has helped me a lot. It taught me how to guide a platoon the right way and be in charge and it gave me more confidence in myself."
According to Gile, a misconception of the program is that participants are required to join the military; students do not enter an obligation to serve by participating.
"Some kids come to the program and see if they're interested in the military, so they test the waters with the program and see if military life is for them. Some kids think they may what to go into the military, but, once they experience the program, they say it's not for them and that's fine," added Gile.
Gile said cadets who graduate will wear a silver cord on their JROTC uniform, which is considered a badge of honor that signifies that they have successfully completed the leadership academy program.
"I'm thinking about going into the military after high school, and this program is going to make me a better leader," said Dunean.
"I measure my success by how many of my kids go to college. The high schools who are lucky enough to have ROTC programs know what we're about." said Gile. "They treasure the programs because of what we do for the kids. High school ROTC cadets have better attendance, they have better grades, less disciplinary problems and more of them go to college than their average peers."