JROTC Program Builds Confidence and Teaches Responsibility

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VINEMONT – The Junior ROTC Program at the Cullman Area Career Center has taken off in just its third year. Colonel Bud Jones and Sergeant Chad Ullery teach sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school the qualities of citizenship, leadership, responsibility and physical training.

The vision of the JROTC program is to provide a quality citizenship, character, and leadership development program, while fostering partnerships with communities and educational institutions. This program is one of the many options for high school students to consider at the Career Center.

Their main focus is to teach young people to be better citizens and instill confidence. “These kids are being given an opportunity to mature and are learning responsibilities,” Col. Jones said. “It’s a hard thing to teach, but it’s very rewarding,” he added. Responsibility is taught by holding the students accountable with leadership positions within the classroom. The class also holds fundraisers for veterans and attends veteran’s day ceremonies and programs. They enjoy bringing in recruiters and veterans to speak to the class on occasion.

The lab portion of the program includes marching, an Olympic style of air rifle marksmanship, lots of sports, running, push-ups and sit-ups. Col. Jones mentioned that they would like to add rappelling to their curriculum.

The class portion includes leadership, citizenship, first aid, history, map reading, health and nutrition, and basic math application. “The curriculum is quite varied,” Col. Jones said.

Senior Joy Ude from West Point High School said, “I like learning about the constitution.” She feels that compared to everything else, it benefits her future the most. She also enjoys the first aid and nutrition lessons.

Joy said that a lot of the hands-on class activities get her out of her comfort zone. This program made her try something new and grow as a person. “It teaches us leadership and how to work as a team,” she said. She added that they do a lot of fun stuff, but that marching is her favorite. Along with her appreciation for the constitution, Joy can see that this program is beneficial to her future because of the simple manners required of her and her classmates. “They teach us respect,” she said.

During her second year in the program, Joy had the responsibility of teaching the first year students. She is quite the encourager. She enjoyed lifting up her classmates and seeing their confidence build throughout the school year. Joy wants to go into the Army and attend college to be an ultrasound technician.

To get the students on track for their future, Col. Jones and Sgt. Ullery assign the sophomores a specific task that will then move them on to the next step as a junior, and finally the last portion during their senior year. Sophomores are required to figure out what they like to do, juniors are required to come up with a plan, and seniors are required to act on that plan. These steps guide each student in their career path upon graduating from high school.

About 100 students from the Cullman county and city schools make up the JROTC program at the Career Center. Col. Jones even mentioned that a wheelchair bound student participated last year. “Some students join with a military background in their family and some join just because they are curious,” Col. Jones said. About 80 percent of their seniors choose to go into the military upon completion of the program. The class contains a lot of athletes, cheerleaders and band members. “With all these athletes, we could have some great sports teams,” Col. Jones said.

The program is currently in the middle of the Career Caravan to recruit other students. They do this by sending two of the JROTC students in uniform to speak to all the middle schools in Cullman. Col. Jones added that these speaking engagements are just one more way that the students can gain confidence and leadership ability within the JROTC program.