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Wednesday January 25, 2017 at 8:53am Age: 2 yrs
Category: High School, District


For high school students in the JROTC program, arriving in class looks a lot like reporting for work at a business office. They head to their work desks with clearly delineated assignments, hold management and staff meetings, discuss problems that arise, define goals and strategies to accomplish them, and they reach out to the world around them to promote their business and give back to the community.


While some students are attracted to the program for its military aspects, JROTC students learn and develop a range of skills that are applicable to the business world, and to their own lives. Students learn topics such as leadership theory, communication and presentation skills, conflict resolution, and financial planning. Participation in academic, physical fitness, drill and community service teams gives students the opportunity to explore their full potential.


Community service may involve helping with parking and traffic during a large school event, babysitting during Parents Night Out, setting up for the commencement ceremony, activities that honor Veterans of America, including cemetery visits and recognition dinners, fundraising efforts, and clothing and toy drives.


Recognizing the strong leadership component of the program, many of Minisink’s JROTC students are also business students, members of the National Honor Society, and involved with Youth in Government.


Recently, during a JROTC class, some students talked about what attracted them to the program, their experience, and future plans.


Sierra Mitts, the Battalion Executive Officer and high school junior, was drawn to JROTC by opportunities to cultivate leadership and public speaking skills. “JROTC is not just about a uniform and the color guard. It’s about thinking like leaders and creating ideas for the future of our country. It’s about citizenship and giving back to the community,” said Sierra, who is also Junior Class Vice President and a member of Minisink’s National Honor Society. Her interests include criminal justice, law, and politics.


Anthony Bozzone, Battalion Command Sergeant Major, also a junior, had a brother in JROTC and was encouraged to join by his parents, but it took some convincing. “The idea of uniforms just wasn’t cool to me,” he said. His family insisted he tried it for a week. “After that first week, I decided I liked it, a lot!” said Anthony. Surprise! Also a member of NHS and President of the Philosophy Club, Anthony is considering a degree in electrical engineering and has West Point and SUNY Polytechnic on his list of prospects. 


George Trautlein, a sophomore, joined JROTC to make friends and work on self-improvement. “JROTC makes you feel like you are a part of a bigger purpose,” he said. “Working together as peers, we strive to go beyond ourselves, and we build bonds that are like family.” George, a sergeant in the program, has his sights on the Air Force ROTC program at the Virginia Military Institute. He sees himself as an Air Force Officer in the future.


Instructor LTC Jonathan Brooks, a retired army officer, is in his second year with Minisink’s JROTC program. He enjoys being a role model to young people and working with future leaders. “JROTC students are dedicated and eager for opportunities to exercise responsibility and leadership. That’s what the chain of command is really about,” said LTC Brooks who oversees the program with CSM Brian Van Wagner.


“For some students, this is also a safe space to break out of their shell and discover their potential. The program pushes you to communicate. It teaches you about organization and time management,” LTC Brooks added. “The intent is not to join the military. The fact is that kids in this program graduate at a higher rate and are more likely to succeed in the path they choose, be it college, a technical school, or an ROTC program.” According to LTC Brooks, JROTC members are also known to stay in touch with each other throughout their lives--another testament to the impact of the program.


Currently, Minisink’s JROTC students are very invested in recruiting new members. Their goal is to increase their number from 64 to 100. If you are interested--or just curious--let them know. They would love to give you a tour of their quarters, share their experiences, and to welcome you into their midst.