Reserve Officers’ Training Corps arrives in middle school

Anna Harrington, Staff Writer

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The Reserve Officers Training Corps, or ROTC, is meant to train future soldiers while they’re in college. An ROTC member would join the military as a 2nd lieutenant upon enlistment.

With the National Defense Act of 1916, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, became an organized program. According to Title 10, section 2031 of The United States Code, it is meant to “instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment”.

On a more local level, there is a JROTC organization at Dobyns-Bennett High School. The JROTC at DB has done many things to help its students. Many former cadets have gone on to do great things for their nation, like joining the military or becoming first responders or law enforcement officers.

According to the JROTC page on Dobyns-Bennett’s website, there is even a former cadet who is now a second lieutenant and stationed at ETSU attending medical school.

Now, DB’s JROTC program has come to Sevier Middle School, as well.

The person who brought the JROTC to Sevier Middle was Debbie Moore, who is the Family Liaison.

“I have worked with Colonial Vogt in the past when I was at Johnson Elementary and knew what a great group of students he had,” she said. “The JROTC would come to Johnson and work with our Flag Team and the students loved it.”

Then, when Moore moved to Sevier, she was approached by the ROTC recruiting officer, suggesting a JROTC for the middle school.

“I talked with our Sevier administration and they thought it was a great idea, so we moved forward to begin the Sevier JROTC,” Moore said. “It began with a key group of devoted students who met every other week. The program has grown so much that we now meet every week.”

The way the JROTC works is that experienced cadets will come to Sevier every other Tuesday and guide cadets through the meetings. On the Tuesdays that Dobyns-Bennett students don’t come, Moore will try getting someone else to come lead the meetings. Sometimes, the Sevier cadets must lead themselves.

Taylor Huffman has been a cadet in JROTC since 6th grade.

“We do drills and play in the gym after,” Huffman said.

Cadets have also learned about flag etiquette and the chain of command, as well as military ranks in both the Air Force and ROTC.

Everything that Sevier cadets study is in the Cadet Guide, which guides every meeting. The Cadet Guide includes how to drill, the Cadet Honor Code, the chain of command, and more.

“Our students begin the meetings with a review of the Honor Code and core values,” Moore said. “We then practice drills and finish with a group activity that fosters trust and friendship.”

Most cadets believe that the hardest part of JROTC would be the drills, which is when cadets must stand in formation and take commands from whoever is the commanding officer. It’s very hard for cadets because they must stand perfectly, and aren’t allowed to look around or talk.

Some cadets, like Paytence Lawor, enjoy the challenge.

“It’s challenging and fun if you put your mind to it it’s really easy and encouraging,” Lawor said.

The friendships cadets form in the JROTC can last years. If a cadet joins the JROTC at Dobyns-Bennett, they will end up being with each other throughout all high school years.

The JROTC at Sevier and at Dobyns-Bennett High School is affiliated with the Air Force, meaning that the cadets mostly learn Air Force terminology and Air Force-specific rules.

Some of the cadets, like David Harper, use this to their advantage.

“The reason why I’m in JROTC is because I want to be in the Air Force.” he said. “I want to be a fighter pilot in the military.”

Not all cadets plan to join the Air Force.

“I plan to join the Marines,” Ceejay Brock, one of the JROTC cadets, said.

The JROTC students from Dobyns-Bennett also help prepare the middle school cadets for high school.

“The DB JROTC students share lots of information about high school and answer questions about what to expect when they arrive at DB,” Moore said.

Many students have no idea what to expect. In the JROTC, cadets already have a group of friends that they’d likely be with in high school.

“The JROTC program is amazing for self discipline and a way to make a stronger bond with friends,” Lawor said.

Some of the cadets who have joined have also become better students and citizens.

“It reinforces positive behaviors and instills pride in our students,” Moore said. “As well as the seven core values taught and confidence developed, our students abide by the Cadet Honor Code: ‘I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those among us who do.’

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