Picayune NJROTC program hires new instructors
Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2016
The NJROTC at Picayune Memorial High School has two new instructors for the 2015-2016 school year.
Retired Navy Chief Duane Bell and retired Marine Colonel Raymond White are looking forward to the start of the school year.
The unit spent the summer training and doing physical workouts to maintain their skills, said Bell.
The group has been a designated as a Distinguished Unit for 14 years in a row and has maintained the top academic average in their area, said Bell.
Over the years, the group has achieved high honors in competitions.
Last year, they finished second in marksmanship out of the 88 JROTC units in Mississippi and sixth in the nation, said Bell.
They’ve also finished sixth in the state’s drill competition, and are the only JROTC unit in the state to have both a drill team and marksmanship team to finish in the top 10.
“We want to continue to perpetuate that success,” said White.
Yet physical training and military history are not all the cadets learn, said White.
“We practice things that make good character,” said White, who tries to teach the students to make good decisions.
Assistant Principal Kristi Mitchell said the group is “phenomenal,” and expects to see them grow in the coming school year.
Students are taught the importance of responsibility and respect, said Mitchell. “They have pride in the things they do and that carries over into the classroom and into leadership roles on campus.”
She said students who are the most involved on campus are there every day and therefore earn better grades in the classroom.
“It gives them a sense of belonging and pride,” said Mitchell.
Bell is a former hospital corpsman with the U.S. Navy and has been teaching JROTC programs in New Orleans for the past five years.
White served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 30 years as an artillery officer before coming to Picayune.
Bell estimated the unit will have about 95-100 students enrolled in program this year, which falls within their usual 10 percent average of the student body.
“Even if they don’t go into the military, they are learning basic skills of life that will benefit them,” said Mitchell.
The unit’s color guard will also be present at three New Orleans Pelican’s games this season, said Bell.