Students fortunate to get benefits of JROTC

Published 10:19 am Saturday, October 16, 2010

To the Editor:

Thank you for the article (“JROTC officially begins at FHS,” Wednesday, Oct. 6) announcing that Franklin High School has been approved by the U.S. Army to host a JROTC unit.

In the May 2006 study entitled “Review of Operations, Shared Services, and Efficiencies in Franklin City Public Schools and Southampton County Public Schools,” JROTC was identified as a program that would tremendously benefit students. This study conducted by the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute of Virginia Commonwealth University, commissioned by Futures, and paid for by local foundations, was designed to identify opportunities where area resources could be optimized.

At the time, both school divisions had been on a list of more than 200 schools nationwide waiting for government funding for JROTC. The underlying premise of the study was that saving money through shared services either helps prevent cuts in existing offerings or creates an avenue to spend on new programs or coursework. Either way, education is enhanced by sharing.

Once identified, both school divisions were approached by Futures with the idea of serving students through a joint JROTC program. Futures committed to procure the necessary revenue to establish a program for either division willing to share the resources.

While we were disappointed that Southampton High School was unable to participate, Franklin-Southampton Futures raised enough money to initiate a privately funded program known as the National Defense Cadet Corps. The commitment was to pay for two instructors and all materials for no fewer than four semesters.

The program began at FHS spring semester 2010 with 53 students. There are 82 students currently enrolled, including 51 males and 31 females.

While it was our hope that having NDCC would move the division up on the government waiting list for JROTC, it was beyond our imagination that a JROTC unit would be approved by the Army so quickly.

What value does JROTC bring to a school division? First, the program curriculum is based on developing leaders by promoting ethical values, good citizenship, effective communication, logical thinking, team-building skills and improved physical fitness.

Secondly, college scholarships are available to graduates, and third, for those who enter the military, there is an automatic pay grade increase. Hopefully, participation in JROTC will help instill confidence in these students and, in turn, encourage them to pursue positive life goals.

Futures Inc. would like to take this opportunity to thank all who contributed toward the successful outcome of this effort. Financial support was paramount, but the time put in on behalf of students by the City of Franklin Public School Board, the administration and staff was also crucial. The community will benefit.

It is the mission of Futures Inc. to optimize local resources for the benefit of all citizens regardless of governmental boundaries.

Lynne Rabil
Committee Chair
Franklin-Southampton Futures Inc.