A new class started this fall at Meade County High School, one that is causing quite a stir. Students love it, the superintendent is excited about it, and the teacher is looking forward to taking the program to a whole new level next year.
The class? Well, it’s actually the birth of a program. Junior ROTC, known familiarly as JROTC, is a high school program whose mission is “to motivate young people to be better citizens.” That message is loudly proclaimed by a sign over the door that the students recite every day, and it’s one that Ret. Col. Todd Wilson is passionate about.
When classes started in August, the very first JROTC group had just gotten started here in Meade County, and Col. Wilson just barely had time to get his room ready before the students poured in. In two daily class sessions, he leads approximately 60 students (cadets) in the new JROTC program, while also teaching three health classes and a learning lab at the Freshman Academy.
Daily class time is structured with specific times/ days set aside for drill instruction, team development including organized sports, inspection, physical training, and class material. JROTC emphasizes leadership training, and the long-term goal is for the program to be student-led.
The program also has an extracurricular element, with competitive opportunities in drills, marksmanship, and Raider Team activities, which Col. Wilson said is athletic competition with military skills. He is taking a group of students to observe a drill meet later this month. Next year, he plans to start developing the competitive programs at MCHS and hopes to be competing – “and winning!” he exclaims, by the program’s third year.
While there are two classes this year, Col. Wilson expects to hold 4 or 5 classes next year, which will provide an opportunity for 100 or more students to be enrolled.
“Kids are waiting in line to be involved,” said Col. Wilson.
At this point, the program has open enrollment, which means any student can join, regardless of their grade level. JROTC features four learning and educational training levels, and it will be four years before the program is fully formed, he said.
The materials and the methodology are Army-based, and cadets will soon wear Army-type camouflage uniforms. However, Col. Wilson stressed that the JROTC program has no military commitment and is not a recruitment tool. He is employed by the school board, not by the Army.