ROTC: It's not about recruiting
INSPECTION – Capt. Chris Williams, left, stands inspection by Capt. James Pollard and Maj. Tamika Moore during morning ROTC exercises at Meridian High School. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Sept. 19, 2002
The Army Junior ROTC unit at Meridian High School has held top honors in 18 of the last 19 years.
Breazeale said the unit undergoes a formal inspection every three years and must score at least 96 percent in all categories to retain the honor. The next inspection takes place Nov. 6.
In off-years, the unit must sustain a certain level of performance to maintain the distinction honor.
The unit's color guard, marching and community service involvement are among the categories evaluated, Breazeale said.
On top of that, individual cadets are judged on appearance, physical fitness, academics and performance on assigned jobs within the unit.
In Meridian, 272 cadets 176 females and 96 males participate in Army JROTC. Meridian High School, Kate Griffin Junior High and Northwest Junior High offer the program.
Breazeale said all interested students are accepted into JROTC in the ninth grade, but that the program becomes more competitive in the 10th grade.
MHS senior Tamika Moore, the unit's highest ranking officer and cadet battalion commander, said the program's mission is "to motivate young people to become better citizens."
However, a JROTC cadet who enlists in the Army enter as a private first class rather than a private.
He said on average about 10 percent to 15 percent of cadets enlist in the military.
Moore said enlisting is an option for her, but that she will not decide until she discusses it with her mother.
In Lauderdale County
In Lauderdale County it's the Naval JROTC rather than the Army.
The program's instructor, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Josef said 102 cadets registered this year.
Like the Army's program, the Navy's JROTC program develops leadership and citizenship skills, teaches structure of government and decision-making skills and helps students develop self-discipline.
Josef estimates that perhaps 50 percent of his unit's graduates will pursue a military career at some time.
Josef said what he sees, other than maturity, is cadets developing leadership roles in other classes, athletics, the band, and a sense of individual responsibility.