By Sam McKay, Clarion Staff Reporter
Have you ever seen students walking around in military-looking camouflage outfits on Wednesdays? Those are student cadets in the John F. Kennedy Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Course (MCJROTC, or JROTC). According to the official JFK MCJROTC website,“MCJROTC … is a leadership education program meant to develop character and citizenship.” There is a lot that this program does, not just for itself, but to better the community through community service.
The first JROTC program was founded in 1911. It was an Army JROTC, although the JROTC program as we know today wasn’t really formed until the National Defense Act of 1916 was passed. In 1964, Congress expanded the program to all branches of the military. ROTC is a college level version of the program. JROTC is for some middle schools and high schools. If you were to join JROTC in middle school, you can also join ROTC in college. Joining early would help get an inside look into what the atmosphere and expectations are like.
Anybody can join, no matter how physically fit you are. This program counts as your Physical Education credits. It is a little bit harder than normal PE, but you don’t do physical education everyday. Normal PE just walks around and plays games, while in JROTC they do organized sports like soccer and flag football.
While in the program, you have the opportunity to go on trips such as Hawaii for spring break, trips to Armed Forces camps, and museums. Last year the cadets went to Twenty-Nine Palms, a Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in San Bernardino County. If you join drill team or color guard, you get the chance to go to competitions like NorCal, a drill competition of all JROTC programs in northern California.
While on trips to places like Twenty-Nine Palms, you do obstacle courses and go on hikes with actual on duty marines. On the Hawaii trip, you will mostly be visiting museums, meeting veterans, and hanging out. Hawaii is more relaxing than the other trips, but you still get a learning experience like no other.
MCJROTC looks great on any application. Even if you only stay in the program for your two years of PE credits, you put in more work than the average high school student. While in this program, you are considered family. No man is left behind. Not only does this program offer good boosts for your future, it provides help for the present. If you have any personal problems, they are willing to listen and give advice.
It’s not only Kennedy that has JROTC, C.K. McClatchy (Air Force JROTC), Luther Burbank (Navy JROTC), and Hiram W. Johnson (Air Force JROTC) have similarprograms. There are often events held for JROTC programs to compete with each other. They often have organized sports tournaments, where JROTC programs from all over the district make teams and go head-to-head to see who is the best program.
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