As you try your best to navigate through the noisy and crowded hallways, throbbing with student bodies, you catch a glimmer of something shiny. Students dressed in navy and black file swiftly into a classroom and begin to inspect each other’s polished and clean uniforms. Medals of honor and ribbons of reward are ordered and centered on each uniform; each student carrying different decorations and some even wear colored cords. As you scan the room you realize that these students are your age and some even share the same classes as you. Just then, a voice calls out, loud and sharp, and a command you can’t make out the words to sends the students stepping briskly into six even rows. Faces stern, eyes looking straight ahead–Wednesday inspection has begun.
The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) was established under the National Defence Act in 1916. Captain Alden Partridge, former Superintendent of the United States Military Academy in West Point, created the first school where the combination of traditional education content and strict military training formed a new teaching technique.
The program was initially implemented as a primary source of military recruitment, focusing only on training young people interested in military life after high school. This idea did not last, however, and was replaced with a new purpose: Teaching students wellness, citizenship, leadership and discipline while maintaining good academic standing.
“The purpose of Junior ROTC is to prepare high school students for responsible roles in the community and to teach them how to respond to different situations in [an] efficient manner,” said Sergeant First Class Madison.
Over the years, Sergeant Madison has taught and mentored thousands of students, witnessing each and every one step into their new classroom at stage one of development, and then grow, mature, and become achievers of dreams and engineers of their own, unique paths to success.
“I too have grown since 2005,” says Madison. “Seeing the pride they experience when they get it, when they improve, when they reach certain milestones, is probably one of the most fulfilling feelings in my career.”
The Francis Lewis High School Patriot Battalion is ranked number one nationwide. The patriot battalion is made up of six companies: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot. Each company is made up of 2 or more classroom sized platoons where cadets learn leadership skills, army knowledge, health, first aid, and US history.
Cadet Captain Anna Gao has been in JROTC for nearly four years. The program has played a huge role in shaping who she is today, enhancing much of her leadership and communication skills.
“Freshman year, I was very timid and quiet and was one of those non-motivated cadets,” said Gao. “However, as I moved up, I became more motivated to strive to become a better person overall.”
Entering her last year of high school as a senior, Gao has achieved her goal of becoming a company commander, following the steps of her previous leaders while paving her own path of leadership, accomplishments, and success.
“By being company commander and Raider commander, I’m able to set the example and motivate others to become better citizens, better people.”
The raider team competes in four different competitions each year: Commander’s Cup, League, and Brigade–each of which require members to complete various obstacles and under harsh conditions and long, tedious hours of intense training, every raider on the team graduates high school with a fierce mentality and physical durability.
“The reason I stayed for four years is because I love helping people,” said Francis Lewis graduate and former second lieutenant Lisa Cho. “The uniform shows a strong connection to what you do in the program. It shows how much you’ve achieved and grown. I definitely walked a lot more confidently.”
As LET year 3 concludes, all cadets are required to apply for a position in the battalion. Possible positions available are battalion commander, company commander, company executive officer, or staff captain. All positions are assigned based on application and two rounds of interviews held by all army instructors.
“I became a mentor to these cadets,” said Madison. “It’s special to me in so many ways. This gives me such great pleasure to be able to make a difference in these children’s lives. I’m so proud of the cadets in the program because I love to see them develop and grow overtime. That’s why I love teaching LET ones. By the time they are seniors no one can be more proud than me.”