Friday, October 27, 2017

EDITORIAL >> JHS ROTC among best

For the first time ever, Jacksonville High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program last week received an “Exceeds Standards” rating in its unit evaluation.

The community should take pride in the achievement and know that there are lots of bright, disciplined students being produced by the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

The perfect rating for AFJROTC never happened under the Pulaski County Special School District, which the new Jacksonville school district broke away from two years ago.

The success of Jacksonville High School’s AFJROTC shows things are moving in the right direction for the new district, for the city and, of course, for the high school military program.

The inspection, done every three years, is a rigorous all-day process. It was judged by Air Force JROTC regional commander Maj. Mike Allen, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, and 19th Airlift Wing Col. Gerald Donohue of Little Rock Air Force Base.

During the inspection the unit of 118 students performed a 30-count drill sequence in their class-A uniforms. They were evaluated on cadet operations, instruction management, school administration, school compliance, drill and uniform wear.

Leader photographer David Scolli, whose photos were published in Wednesday’s paper, attended a portion of the inspection. The young students, many of whom will join the Air Force after high school or college, looked like professional Airmen in their service dress and patent-leather shoes. It was inspiring and should motivate everyone to strive for excellence.

These young people should be saluted for a job well done. Be assured the next generation of the Jacksonville community is capable and ready for the challenges ahead.

As great of an honor as this is, the high school group doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels.

Jacksonville High School’s AFJROTC instructors — retired Maj. Jeff Cathey and retired Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Hancock — are hoping for the distinguished unit with merit award, which would put the school in the top 5 percent of the approximately 900 AFJROTC units in the United States and overseas.

To receive that prestigious honor, the unit must receive the “Exceeds Standards” evaluation rating and have 12 hours of community service per cadet enrolled in the JROTC program. According to Cathey and Hancock, the JHS AFJROTC is well on the way to completing the required community service hours.

We have no doubt this dedicated group will nab that honor, too.

To the Jacksonville High School AFJROTC unit, we salute you.