JROTC is one of the school’s biggest organizations and is constantly searching for new recruits in the middle schools especially.
Many eighth graders transition into high school looking for an organization to join, but shy away from ROTC because of misconceptions they had heard going around.
“We try to dispel myths that go around,” Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Burton Jr. Retired said. “Like ‘if you’re in ROTC, you have to go to the military.’ that’s a huge misconception.”
It’s a common thought that goes around in the middle schools that scares away many potential cadets who are afraid that joining an elective might sign away their career to a future in the armed forces.
“Our background is military and we learn different values, traditions… but it doesn’t mean that every cadet goes into the military.” LTC Burton said. “Out of the majority of our cadets in the system now, you might have only 1 percent that go to the military.”
Although ROTC is modeled after the military in their structure and branches, for the most part, it is not a direct link into the military. The goal of the organization is not to send every participant into the marines, or the army, but rather to make them better people who are ready to serve their community.
“Our mission is to motivate young adults to be better citizens… [Including] service to the community,” LTC Burton said. “We want them to not just be a part of the system, but to help improve the system.”
Another misconception that many potential recruits have is that ROTC is too uptight and made up of strict rules and uptight instructors because of their military backgrounds.
“Of course we have rules we have to abide by, but ROTC is probably one of the most lenient classes in the school,” Battalion Commander Hailey Strange said. “It’s cadet lead. The students run the program. Of course, we have our instructors, but they’re more here just to supervise us.”
The organization is comprised of cadets who have learned to take leadership and take initiative in planning activities. The cadets are in charge of organizing events like their annual military ball and many community service-learning projects. ROTC is also beneficial to eighth graders who might be struggling with the social transition from middle school to high school.
“Going from middle school to high school is a big transition and ROTC can really help the transition go smoother,” Strange said. “In ROTC, everyone is just a really big family. It helps to know that you have this base of over 100 friends all throughout your school.”
Going into high school can be intimidating, but having a group of built-in friends is a way to make it easier.
“ROTC really makes you feel like you’re part of something that’s a lot bigger than just any other organization,” Company Commander Kiara Anders said.