Army JROTC dedicated to making students better citizens


Shelby Ford

Army JROTC receives thanks for large quantity of volunteering in the community.

Joseph Potts, Reporter

The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps(JROTC) is a class taught by retired military officials teaching lessons on character education, student achievement and leadership.

“Sgt. Maj. Matson and Nathan Rozinek came to Walcott and they were talking to all the eighth graders about JROTC for high schoolers and I put down my name,” junior and cadet Thomas Yates said. “I actually picked the army one on accident, but I kind of stuck with it,” Yates said.

Students can become cadets and the lessons taught in JROTC allow cadets to learn information, practice competency, and apply competency in real life situations. ROTC helps students develop skills like collaboration and critical thinking.

“When you go to the class, they pretty much lay out a few things right off the bat,[for example] you’re supposed to carry yourself with a little more respect than some people care to[admit],” Yates said. “And the first time you really feel like you’re a cadet is when you pass your first term and you are given the rank of corporal…That’s when you definitely feel like you earned something for the first time,” Yates said.

Cadets are taught by instructors who are military officials that have been retired from various duties like active and reserve duty and the National Guard Army Service. Instructors are instructed and charted by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 to teach and advise roughly around 314,000 JROTC cadets annually.

“I applied, then got my Iowa teaching license and college degree from Columbia,” Sgt. Maj. Michael Matson said. “I teach two levels of the Army JROTC course, first and fourth year. I facilitate, coach, and guide all parts of the program,” Matson said.

Cadets can participate in various activities to show their understanding of lessons such as military drill competitions and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) camp.

“I’m a little bit of a physical junkie, so I do like PT days(physical training). Tuesdays we do individual exercises, which will be things like rifle PT and circuit PT, where we’re doing push ups and we’re running around…I prefer our team building exercises, which are games like dodgeball,” Yates said.

The courses that cadets take are four years long and called Leadership Education and Training. These lessons teach cadets how to be better citizens by developing skills like leadership, good citizenship and collaboration. Cadets can also succeed in ranks and earn personal benefits that make them better leaders. For example, a cadet can become an officer, which allows them to set up training and events for their battalion.

“We have officers, so they are in charge of getting everything set up for our battalion in all ROTC blocks. So they have one person who has what we’re going to do for the week set up a week before hand,”  junior and cadet Jarrod Hulme said. “And then we have people who take control of each block in companies. So it kind of benefits each person differently, but each rank benefits the battalion,” Hulme said.

There are very little requirements needed to join ROTC. A person can easily can go to their counselor and schedule to have ROTC in their classes. But there are requirements needed to stay in ROTC.

Yates stated that a person can be demoted in rank if grades are suffering, and cadets can also be moved to no rank if they are failing. If a students were to continue to fail in classes, then they could be removed from the class altogether.

“Attitude is obviously another thing. We definitely want to carry ourselves as positive as possible and being derogatory towards anyone for any reason at all is just not accepted,” Yates said. “Fighting is a big thing as well. We do threaten to take people out of the class if they’re known to be associated with fights… So if you just get looped into one [a fight] because you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, we’re not going to get on you as bad. We’re just going to say you should probably have tried to get away though,”  Yates said.

The cadets take what they learn from ROTC and apply it to their everyday lives. For example, using time management skills to keep track of schedules and important events, being more courteous to people, and being more self-confident in abilities.

“In fourth term, we have service learning projects where do things like help out with American League or will do car washes. We have multiple groups. There’s about three groups per company and we have three companies, so we do up to nine projects a year at the end of the year,” Yates said.

ROTC students meet up in two different places. The first block students meet up behind the school where the buses park and the third block students meet at the front of the school where the benches are. As recommended by Hulme, students should meet up with other cadets or ROTC officials to get an understanding of the course and its requirements.

“It is kind of nice because you know you’re doing something. You’re putting yourself out there and if you stick with it and you really care about it; it’s a fulling experience,” Yates said.