JROTC prepares cadets for the future


Courtesy of Margaret Goletiani

Shirah Lister

Tucked away behind the gym, through the empty stairwell and across the laundry room lies the famed Junior Reserve Officer Corps Training (JROTC) classroom. Away from the hustle and bustle of the Wilson hallways, JROTC has made itself a cozy nest where students grow as leaders and as a community.

“It’s like a family,” Cadet Captain and S3 Head of Operations Polina White said. “After doing it for just a year or two you make unbelievable bonds with each other.”

Students begin class with the Cadet Creed, a short speech that embodies what it means to be a part of JROTC while reminding cadets of the program’s core values. “I am an Army Junior ROTC Cadet,” the Creed begins, “I am the future of the United States of America.” Only after this pledge does the class begin.

An average class period, according to White, who has been a part of JROTC for three years, looks like any normal class. They go over the objective, do the warm-up, following suit with what is expected of any course. However, JROTC is like no other class offered here at Wilson. Lessons can cover anything from proper dining etiquette to US foreign affairs, and are strictly student-led. “We do a lot more work with each other,” White said, “Rather than getting lectured by teachers all the time.”

The student-filled staff is in control of everything the program does, from weekend competitions to early morning training to paperwork and permission slips—students even manage the fake guns, referred to as ‘weapons,’ that are used during Color Guard and for different drills. “So much of it is just what the students decide,” White echoed. 

In the JROTC class I was lucky enough to attend, students were learning how to deal with cold weather injuries. Colonel O’Connor walked his students through prevention methods and how to help someone with a cold weather injury such as hypothermia. 

The class is discussion based and students are expected to make contributions consistently. Lessons are taken out of different textbooks that can be seen around the room, covering a variety of topics from the environment to finance, and made into an interactive activity for the students, like making posters or participating in a group discussion.

“[JROTC] actually helps you be an adult. You learn… how to function in this world once you graduate,” White commented.

Once the bell rings, the students make their way out of the isolated classroom, out of the abandoned stairwell and past the gym, and melt back into the student body, with just a little more knowledge on foundations for success than the rest of us.