JROTC, making a difference in the community

Allison B. Hudson

The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) Cadets of Donaldsonville High School are performing big tasks in the community and at school. The JROTC is under the command of Major Bailey, who has been at Donaldsonville High for the last seven years. JROTC currently has 83 cadets out of approximately 330 students.

The JROTC has been know in the community to participate in almost all community activities, most members giving up their weekends and often some holidays. There hard work does not go unnoticed, and the JROTC is an asset to the Donaldsonville community.

The JROTC is a Federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in high schools across the United States. The program was created as part of the National Defense Act of 1916 and later expanded under the 1964 ROTC Vitalization Act. Their duties include: developing good citizenship and patriotism, developing self-reliance, leadership, the ability to communicate both orally and written, and developing a knowledge of basic military skills.

The JROTC of Donaldsonville High teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and State Farm sponsors to participate in a program called "Protecting You, Protecting Me." It is under the STAR program, which is designed to help students improve in mathematics, science, foreign languages, and other subjects. The program is a student lead program. The program is designed for students in grades first through fifth, and is a science-based research program. Some subjects that are taught under the program include: Growth and Development, and alcoholism and the effects it has on the brain.

"By participating in this program, it gives these kids the exposure to perform leadership roles in the community," said Major Bailey.

Major Bailey was asked to participate in this program about a year ago, and Bailey said the only reason he agreed was because it is student-lead.

With much thought out plan, and training for the program, members of JROTC travel to Lowery Elementary and Intermediate Schools, to teach second and third graders various lessons every Monday and Wednesday. There are eight lessons taught and they touch basis on every subject and relate it on a second and third grade comprehension level. Members engage the classes with visual and oral reports, and make it fun for the kids to participate.

"I am very supportive of the program, it makes the children aware of basic things they need to know," says Mrs. Wanda Washington, third grade music teacher at Lowery Elementary.

This is the first year for the program in Donaldsonville, and the Donaldsonville JROTC is the only participant in the Country to partake in "Protecting You, Protecting Me" program. There has only been positive feedback from teachers, parents, students, and even members of the JROTC.

"I love when they come to our school, we get to learn a lot of things, and sometimes they bring us treats for answering the right questions," says Trent Sullivan, third grade student.

"The good thing about the program is that they run it, I just act as the mentor and advisor. 95 percent they run," said Major Bailey.

There are a few steps that the JROTC has to perform before presenting their lesson to the second and third graders each week. There is a self-assessment performed and feedback is offered every week from the week before. Then, students gather in groups of three or four to prepare a lesson plan for the following week. Major Bailey requires that lessons cannot be taught by reading directly from the paper, and they have to make it interesting. When the teams are ready they first present in front of their peers, and if it is not satisfactory, they will recite until they get it right before their actual performance on Wednesday.

"This program is good because not only are we teaching them, I'm learning things as well. Its like we both get the best out of the program," said Dionne Smith, a sophomore JROTC Cadet.

Although the program is new, this is not the first time JROTC has held various events to help younger students who look up to them in the community. Last year, the Awareness Presentation Team (APT) of JROTC participated in a skit on conflict resolution and the consequences of conflicts. They presented both sides of a conflict: the negative way and the positive way to handle an argument. JROTC also involved the audience, who were Lowery Students.

Year round, the JROTC remains busy with several yearly trips, many fundraisers and doing more than 7,000 hours of community service.

One of the biggest trips this year for JROTC, is their ten-day trip to Europe during Easter break from school. The cost of the trip is between $2,500-$2,600. Most of the money will come from fundraising, with only very little or nothing coming out of their pockets.

Some of their fundraisers include: Toys for Tots, Adopt a Highway, Great American Cookie Company, and LSU parking every home game.

Also, JROTC travels around the Gulf States for various trips during the school year, one repeating trip is to the World War Two Museum in New Orleans, which is required for all freshman Cadets. All trips are strictly for educational purposes, but the kids still have fun, said Major Bailey.

This program is beneficial to everyone who is involved. The kids at Lowery Elementary look up to these kids for standing in front of them every Monday and Wednesday and doing what most of them do best: display leadership as opposed to being a follower, and it teaches the kids discipline. Every Wednesday, JROTC has uniform day, which makes it even better for the elementary kids. When the Cadets entered the classrooms, the joy shown on these kids' faces are remarkable. JROTC Cadets are seen to them as role models, and looked upon by peers and the community as youth leaders.

"This program is very influential, it teaches them about alcohol use and makes them award of their surroundings, which often include alcohol abuse. Its also good for us because we are teaching outside of our surroundings and it makes us realize how much we have actually learned," said Tyretta Sam, senior JROTC Cadet.

Sam said she was interested in JROTC because when she was a freshman, she often saw how much they did in the community, and immediately had to get involved. She has been a member for all four years and encourages everyone to join because it's a great program.

For more information on the program or to contact JROTC, call DHS High School at 225-474-2730.