Picayune NJROTC students bring home leadership skills

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Seven Picayune Memorial High School NJROTC students recently spent a week at Camp Shelby learning about discipline and leadership.
For seven days, the students woke up at 5 a.m. and had 15 minutes to be in the yard for physical training. Then, they were split into platoons for their respective training with other ROTC members from eight different states, PMHS junior Rose Eldridge said.
Eldridge participated in the Leadership Academy program at Camp Shelby, which is a more rigorous course than the Basic Leadership Training course other PMHS students underwent, she said.
“It teaches you to lead in general, not just in a military setting,” Eldridge said.
One important aspect of leadership, she said, is owning up to their actions.
“One thing they said was, ‘Do as I do, not as I say,’” Eldridge said, adding that she took that to mean a leader has to be responsible for their actions, as well as their orders.
The program also gave students the opportunity to meet other ROTC students of the same age and rank, and compare notes about drill techniques.
“I met a lot of new friends there and we still keep in touch, PMHS student Reece Riley, who participated in the basic leadership program, said.
Learning how to lead a group of people can be useful in any field, and while the military is always an option for these students, many expressed interest in other fields.
Eldridge said she isn’t sure if she wants to pursue a career in the military, or opt for the private sector, but either way, having these leadership techniques will help.
Riley said he learned not to yell when filling a leadership role, contrary to the stereotype of a screaming drill sergeant seen in movies.
Another one of the group’s new sayings is “get mad, get over it and get on with it,” PMHS student Nataliegh Frierson said, who participated in the basic leadership course.
“When something goes wrong, you can only blame yourself,” she said.
Aside from leadership classes, the students participated in daily physical training, which included push-ups, sit-ups, laps around the camp and other physically intensive activities.
“The hardest part was PT,” Frierson said.
But chow time was another story.
“That was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten,” Frierson said.
And because they were at Camp Shelby, the students often saw active and reserve Army personnel conduct their own drills and sit down to the same delicious meals.
“It was very interesting to see them,” Eldridge said, although they didn’t get to speak or interact with them much due to the secluded nature of the program.
Overall, the students will use what they learned during the weeklong course and apply it to their studies at PMHS.
“We go there to learn from them and become teachers here during the school year,” Riley said.
The Picayune NJROTC Booster Club raised $1,400 to help pay for the students’ trip, Eldridge said.
PMHS students Lakesha Tate, Landon Smith, Damion Lewis and Haylee Carney also participated in the leadership academy programs.

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About Julia Arenstam

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