PRC’s NJROTC students are prepared for life
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 2, 2015
Pearl River Central High School’s NJROTC is celebrating a successful year with their end-of-the-year awards banquet tonight at 5 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
During the festivities, cadets will perform various drills, along with receiving awards and recognition, amongst family, friends and community members. Also, the new cadet commanding officer will be sworn in.
Friday, cadets, along with Senior Naval Science Instructor Col. Todd Ryder, rehearsed in preparation for the event.
Ryder said he’s proud of his cadets, several of whom are graduating in May.
“These kids achieve so much for their families and the community,” Ryder said. “Seeing many move on to do something great is something you can’t put a price tag on.”
Out of the 11 soon-to-be graduates, seven will move on to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, including Senior Caleb Gage, who was selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, Ryder said.
“It’s really tough to get into this academy and this will be the first time one of our own will attend,” Ryder said.
He credits his cadets’ success to their enthusiasm for the program.
During the school year, his cadets acquired 5,000 hours of community service through various projects, including picking up litter along local roadways.
“That’s just of the many things we do in this program and it’s not even a requirement. These students are very enthusiastic to participate and give back to the community,” Ryder said.
Year-round, cadets participate in military drills, competitive shooting and orienteering, where cadets demonstrate their navigational skills by using a map and compass to navigate from point A to B.
Quarterly, cadets take a physical fitness test, which involves running a mile and completing push-ups and crunches. The test is designed to make sure the cadets are physically prepared for the military, Ryder said.
NJROTC is a four-year program and while some choose to leave the program early, they have a 75 to 80 percent return rate regarding freshman students planning to continue the program into their sophomore year, Ryder said.
NJROTC Chief Ron Hazlewood said he and Ryder form strong relationships with their long-time cadets.
“They come in as freshmen and then the next thing you know they’re driving cars and have girlfriends,” Hazlewood said. “One of the neat things is that this is a four-year program so we really build relationships and have the opportunity to get to know everybody.”
Although classes are almost over, returning NJROTC cadets are participating in various summer events. Several top cadets were selected to attend the 2015 Session of American Legion Boys State in Mississippi, where they will have the opportunity to learn about state, county and municipal government. Other cadets will attend the JROTC Leadership Camp in Gulfport, Miss.