Local News

Military Programs Gaining Attention at Area High Schools

Posted August 25, 1999

— While most branches of our Armed Forces are downsizing, a military program in high schools nationwide is doing just the opposite.

The Junior Reserve Officers Training Program, JROTC, dates back to 1916. In the last several years, more and more teens are showing interest, allowing the program to grow bigger than ever.

Kimberly Sinclair is in her fourth year of the Navy JROTC program at Cape Fear High School. She is now the cadet commander.

"I've learned self-pride, self-reliance and responsibility," she says.

Sinclair is one of hundreds of students showing new interest in JROTC. Because of its popularity, theU.S. Navywill add 150 new programs nationwide in the next three years.

TheU.S. Armyplans to expand over the next five years, starting with 50 new units in 2000. Thehigh school Army ROTCprogram has nearly doubled in size since 1993.

The main goal of ROTC is to teach discipline and good citizenship, but it is also becoming a great recruiting tool. Nearly 40 percent of all participants enlist in the military.

"All services are having a hard time recruiting, meeting the need. Where else can you meet high school students and be exposed to the military than a JROTC program," says Senior Chief Jesse Freeman, Associate Naval Science Instructor.

Jimmy Kasper's experience has reinforced his decision to join theU.S. Air Force.

"I know the drill, how to take orders real well. So it helps you out a lot if you're planning to join the military," says Kasper.

Cumberland Countyhas a JROTC program at every high school, and through the Army's expansion, will get a program at the new Jack Britt High School in 2000.

Durham County offers ROTC at three of its high schools. Wake County also has programs at three high schools.

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