Published On: Tue, Jun 2nd, 2015

Olympic Heights High School to Launch JROTC Program

By CRA News Service

Some students at Olympic Heights High School will be suiting up and taking on the title of cadet as the Palm Beach County School District launches a Marine Corps Junior ROTC program at the start of the 2015-16 school year.

The character and leadership development program, established in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps, is the result of a two-year process by the Department of Choice and Career Options to bring the program – the first of its kind – to the district.

“We are very excited about this program,” said Tara L. Kobel, a specialist in the Choice department who works closely with the JROTC programs. “It is a phenomenal leadership program and it builds such camaraderie, leadership and self-discipline amongst the students.”

The four-year curriculum will cover career exploration, citizenship in American history and government, leadership, military history, personal growth and responsibility and public service.

While some students may go on to pursue a military career, the program is not a recruiting ground for the military, and students are not pressured to join the Armed Services, officials said.

“There is no push to enter the military, nor is it a requirement,” Kobel said. “This is strictly a leadership program to help students in life and their career pathway after their graduation.”

The Armed Forces however, often offer incentives, such as accelerated promotion, to those with high school JROTC experience.

“The goal of JROTC programs is to build better citizens and to make students leaders in their community,” Peter Licata, director of Choice and Career Options, said in a news release. “It is another opportunity for our students to gain valuable leadership experience and career opportunities.”

During the recent annual Enlistee Recognition ceremony, at least155 high school seniors chose to enter the military after high school, Kobel said.

The federal government would pay about $250,000 for uniforms and other start-up costs, ongoing costs for supplies and equipment,

The district will cover the salaries for the two instructors, typically a retired Marine officer and a retired noncommissioned officer. Salaries will be determined by their rank and years of service.

“Since this unit is approved as [a National Defense Cadets Corps unit], the District is responsible for the full salaries of the Instructors until it becomes a fully funded JROTC program,” Kobel said.

All programs must start as an NDCC until a funding window opens for cost share salaries, she said.

Olympic Heights Principal Dave Clark said it is an honor for his school to offer the district’s newest JROTC program.

“Being a part of JROTC is like being a part of a big family,” Clark said in the release. “There are all different sorts of people, but they get along well because they are all part of the same team.”

Students living within the boundary can submit an application to Anita Foster at anita.foster@palmbeachschools.org.  Applications can be found on the District’s Edline or they can pick one up in the District’s headquarters.

For more information, email Foster.

 

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