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Guest column: JROTC — it’s more than marching and wearing uniform

By Sgt. 1st Class Scott K. Smith

As a U.S. Army JROTC instructor, I am looking forward to another great year of instruction.

As always, I hope our program’s student numbers increase this coming school year, and we need parents’ support with this effort.

Who does not want their children to be successful in life no matter what career path their children choose upon graduation from high school?

While most parents and students are aware that Rowan-Salisbury Schools has four Army JROTC and one Air Force JROTC program, many have some misconceptions about what we really are about.

JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. One of the misconceptions is that we recruit for the military. We do not.

Another misconception is we teach only military-related classes. We do not.

Another one is that we prepare students for war. We do not.

What JROTC does teach is leadership, self-awareness, how to study, learning styles, etiquette, financial planning, resume writing and civic duty. Then there are the traditional subjects such as drill and ceremonies, marksmanship safety, physical fitness, map reading and land navigation.

There are extracurricular activities also.

At East Rowan High School, we have a drill team, orienteering team, raider team and rifle team. They travel to compete against other high school JROTC programs both within and outside the state.

We also offer rappelling, high ropes confidence courses and several overnight camping trips all aimed to reinforce lessons that are taught in the classroom.

The overall concept of Army JROTC is to encourage young people to be the best citizen they can be no matter what career path they decide to go on.

JROTC can make a huge impact on a young person’s life. We instructors always enjoy having former cadets come back to visit and explain to new cadets how JROTC made a difference in their lives.

We also appreciate all the thank-you letters written by parents on the positive effects of JROTC.

We encourage you to talk with your kids about joining JROTC this coming school year. Please feel free to call or email your school’s instructors regarding any questions you or your child may have about the program.

Scott K. Smith is a U.S. Army retired sergeant first class and assistant Army instructor at East Rowan High School.

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