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Meridian High JROTC program wins top honor

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Aug. 30, 2001
Once again, the U. S. Army has designated the ROTC unit of Meridian High School as an "Honor Unit with Distinction."
The Junior ROTC program has received the highest designation possible in nine of the last 10 years, based on "exceptional performance" during the previous school year.
Army Col. Truitt Breazeale, who is entering his 10th year as commander of the unit, attributes the program's success to teamwork.
With nearly 300 cadets, Meridian High has the largest JROTC program in the state.
Breazeale and Sgt. 1st Class James Hickmon oversee the unit with the help of a staff made up of cadets who have shown academic promise and leadership abilities.
The staff structure is organized much like the U.S. Army. Cadets have specific responsibilities, such as keeping cadet records, scheduling training and keeping up with supplies.
During formal inspection by the U.S. Army, which occurs every three years, cadet staff members are required to brief inspectors on their area of responsibility. Records are also reviewed and one class of cadets is chosen to fall out in formation to drill.
Every year, details of the unit's activities and instruction is submitted to the Army.
JROTC is an elective course offered to high school students, beginning with their freshman year. The unit's mission: "To motivate young people to be better Americans."
The course teaches cadets about leadership and communication skills, military procedure, history, physical fitness and current events. Cadets participate in drill competitions throughout the year and attend camp events on weekends and during the summer.
Yentl Coleman, a Meridian High junior in the JROTC program, said she has learned how to control herself.
Another junior in the JROTC program, Chris Gardner, is hoping it will help him further his education.
Gardner said the course has taught him respect for his peers and authority. He said it also has taught him that people can do anything they want to, as long as they put their mind to it.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.