JROTC Programs Prepare for Leadership

hen Kelvin Felton saw the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) class on his school schedule at East English Village Preparatory Academy, he shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t pay much attention in the first couple of classes, but when Sgt. 1st Class Roddie Arlien engaged him, a light went on.

“He made it real fun-real interactive,” says Felton. “He gave us something to look forward to, and that’s when I just really got into it.”

Felton is one of 460 students at Village Prep enrolled in the JROTC program, which is offered to more than 2,700 students at 13 Detroit high schools. The federally funded citizenship course, sponsored by the U.S. armed forces, prepares students for leadership roles while making them aware of their rights and privileges as productive members of society. Trained by U.S. Army officers, students wear military uniforms once weekly and learn the basics about the military, as well as current events, military history and international affairs.

Students seems to stand taller and walk straighter as they learn respect for authority, marksmanship and how to think critically.

Arlien says JROTC’s mission is to motivate young people. The program also encourages cadets to be good planners, make sound decisions, write a resume and manage a budget.

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“What we’re trying to do is bring out the best in them,” says Arlien; “their leadership skills, abilities and gifts.”

During special occasions, ceremonies, and at school on Wednesdays, cadets are required to wear the JROTC uniform, which consists of green slacks, a light green shirt and accessories to reinforce the importance of self-appearance and attention to detail.

Felton says that when he wears his uniform, decorated with his ranks and ribbons, symbols of his accomplishments in the program, he feels a great sense of pride.

Dakharia Hemphill, a senior at Village Prep, has participated in JROTC for four years. The battalion commander mentors other cadets. Hemphill says the difference between cadets and “When we have them do things correct and in order,” she says. “It sets them apart from everybody else.”

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