FHS to start Army program

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FRANKLIN—The city school division has received approval from the U.S. Army to implement a new leadership program at Franklin High School next year.

The program, called the National Defense Cadet Corps, is almost identical to the more widely known Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Students in grades 9 through 11 will be able to enroll in the NDCC program beginning in the January 2010 semester.

NDCC and JROTC differ in the way the two programs are funded. The government mostly subsidizes funding for JROTC, while NDCC is privately funded. The nonprofit group Franklin-Southampton Futures Inc. was instrumental in helping bring NDCC to Franklin.

“In a year when budget cuts have had a major impact on education, we are extremely pleased to have helped facilitate finding the resources for such a valuable new program,” said Chuck Lilley, the group’s president.

According to John Sovine, chief of the 4th JROTC Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C., the curricula of JROTC and NDCC are the same and are designed to build character in young people and motivate them to be better citizens.

The NDCC is also geared toward helping young people appreciate ethical values and principles, to think logically and communicate effectively with others, appreciate the importance of physical fitness, and to develop mental management abilities and teamwork skills.

College scholarships are available to NDCC students who enroll in ROTC programs at several schools, including Old Dominion, Virginia Tech, Hampton and Longwood universities. NDCC participants who go directly into the military are also eligible for immediate pay grade increases.

Interest in NDCC has increased since the government stopped funding JROTC to help pay for the war in Iraq. More than 250 schools nationwide, including Franklin High School, are on a waiting list for JROTC.

Futures approached both the Franklin and Southampton County school divisions with the NDCC idea.

“We believed in the program, the opportunities it presented for students, and the positive effect it would have on our community,” said Lynne Rabil, a Futures board member. “We took full responsibility for finding the money to implement NDCC for any interested division. We’ve been blessed in our community with charitable organizations and individuals who want to help but often are pulled in many directions.”

Bev Rabil, the city school division’s associate director of instruction, echoed that sentiment.

“We are thrilled to be able to implement this long awaited curriculum at Franklin High School next year,” Bev Rabil said. “Every student who participates stands to gain valuable life skills, no matter what direction he or she chooses for the future.”

Dr. Michelle Belle, the division’s new superintendent, said, “I came from a system with a very strong JROTC program and I can attest to the difference it can make in a school. Not only does the curriculum impact a student’s perspective of education and citizenship, but discipline within the school is also enhanced.”

Franklin High School will move up on the waiting list for JROTC in return for accepting the HDCC program.

“We sought a three-year commitment for NDCC funding, hoping that JROTC would kick in within the timeframe,” said Brian Hedgepeth, another Futures board member. “It now seems fortuitous.”