Carolina Forest NJROTC

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NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) has been around in the United States since 1964, making it a well-established and important course in many high schools around the country. At Carolina Forest, we have a very active and involved NJROTC unit; however, many people don’t know how much hard work goes into the program.

NJROTC is a class that instructs students about the Navy and the values and skills that one would learn in the Navy. Students, or cadets, are given a variety of activities in the class, such as physical training (PT), wearing a Navy uniform, practicing drill activities and learning about the Navy’s history and internal structure. Cadets also have opportunities to participate in different extracurricular activities and community service. 

Needless to say, the NJROTC program at our school requires large amounts of dedication and effort on behalf of the cadets and the leaders to keep up with their responsibilities. For example, it’s the NJROTC program that puts up and takes down the flag before and after school; a cadet is also responsible for our morning ritual of observing the moment of silence and reciting the pledges. The program also competes in a variety of competitions with other JROTC programs in our area, such as drill team and academics. On top of all of this, our NJROTC program participates in parades and organizes community service events. 

In order to highlight this hard work, I interviewed Cadet Ensign Hailey Whitmore, the Public Affairs Officer of our school’s unit. She’s responsible for managing the unit’s social media and writing articles. She’s been in NJROTC for three years and is a perfect example of the dedication that cadets put into the program. Whitmore, on top of being the PAO, is the commander of the Academic Team and is involved in the Drill Team, CyberPatriot team and Sea Perch. On an average day, she doesn’t get home until 6 p.m.

Whitmore also told me about some of the work that cadets are offered in addition to extracurricular teams. Our school’s unit organizes community service events so frequently that the program has a community service event scheduled every weekend for the next two months. Many cadets have over 200 hours of community service time from the program. Some community service events include cleaning Postal Way, helping with lawn care at SOS Care (a nonprofit organization that helps people with autism) and running concessions for Miracle League games (a baseball team for special needs children).

According to Whitmore, NJROTC focuses on “anything for the betterment of the community for the people who can’t do it themselves.”

This goal extends beyond community service events as well. NJROTC also organizes food drives for people in need and provides food and transportation for cadets whose parents can’t provide these things for them. 

This work requires a strong character in order to manage successfully. Captain Kevin Boyle, the commander of the program, notes this kind of character building that the program encourages.

When asked about the most important value for NJROTC cadets to have, Captain Boyle replied, “Integrity. That is an absolute necessity in this, or any other program of merit, in my opinion. People don’t like fakes. We value people who are authentic and trustworthy. If someone can trust you at your word, can trust you to do the right thing even if it is hard, can trust you to make the right choice even when no one is watching, you are someone of integrity and character. People like that are going to be successful in whatever they do in life.”

Overall, it’s clear that NJROTC isn’t only about the military, as many people think it is. Our school’s unit offers a wide range of activities and avenues to explore. The unit acts as a family for many students at our school. 

As Captain Boyle said, “[NJROTC] serves as an ‘at-school’ family. The cadets spend enormous amounts of time together, and as a result, they get to know each other, care about each other, and look out for one another. That sense of responsibility to each other is a rare thing.”