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JROTC Three Things to Know

Three Things To Know About High School JROTC Programs

By Alexandra Pannoni Nov. 10, 2014, at 8:00 a.m.

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs can instill skills in students that help them in all aspects of life.

High schoolers that participate in junior ROTC are not required to join the military.

Citizenship, leadership, character and community service are the core tenets of high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs.

"JROTC is based on leadership," says Shelbi Davis, 18, a senior at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri. "It just helps you work with others and be able to clearly express yourself and not be afraid of what people think of you."

Davis, a cadet colonel in her high school’s junior ROTC program, is one of the thousands of teens who participate in the military-themed character development programs at high schools across the nation.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard each operate their own versions of the program for high schoolers, which are offered at more than 3,000 U.S. high schools as an elective course.

High schoolers and their parents should consider these aspects of junior ROTC before enrolling in a program.

1. There is no military obligation: Students who participate in junior ROTC are not required to join the military after high school, and the program is not a military preparation class.

"That is not the mission of JROTC at all, the mission is to prepare children to become better citizens," says retired Maj. Trina Tilque, commandant and senior Army instructor at Military and Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis, a public magnet school in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But the programs do have a strong military influence. They are taught by retired military personnel and partially funded by the military. Course work includes military history and customs, and students are required to wear a uniform at least twice a month.

Students also partake in physical fitness training and drill instruction as well, among other activities.

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