Air Force Junior ROTC students at Minot High School said they've learned lessons in leadership that will last a lifetime.
"It disciplines kids to listen to leaders and parents," said senior Nathan Morgan, who said everyone has to answer to authority, including the CEO who has to report to the board of directors.
Morgan also enjoys the friendly competition that develops between cadets in the program, as each strive to their best in class and in extracurricular activities and to win awards.
The ROTC program is looking for additional cadets for next year. Capt. Scott Evans, one of two teachers in the program, said about 72 students in grades nine through 12 are enrolled in the program this school year, a slight increase over last year, but a high school this size should normally have about 100 students in an ROTC program. The other ROTC teacher is Clark Culbertson.
Evans touted the benefits of the program, which he said promotes good citizenship, helps develop leadership and critical thinking skills, teaches effective communication, improves physical fitness, trains kids in team work, stirs interest in science, technology, engineering and math, and boosts overall self-esteem.
Students in the program take a class in aerospace science, leadership and physical fitness and also participate in a 5-day leadership camp at Camp Grafton durng the summer months. Extracurricular activities include clubs in rocketry, color guard, exhibition drill, saber team, armed and unarmed drill, static aircraft modeling, radio control aircraft and, new this year, in marksmanship with air rifles.
There's no military service requirement for taking ROTC, said Evans, but several of this year's seniors are headed to careers in the military. Some have earned appointments to one of the nation's service academies and others to participate in a college ROTC program.
Evans, who recently retired from the Air Force himself and is new to the program this year, said students who have participated in two or three years of ROTC will earn more money if they choose to enlist in the military. Two years of high school ROTC will earn them one rank increase after basic training and $200 extra per month and three years of ROTC will earn them two ranks after basic training, or $300 extra per month. Students also can receive dual college credit through Adams State.
Senior Miles Way, who has a nomination to a service academy, said the program also teaches responsibility outside the classroom. Students are issued a uniform that is worth more than $700, which they wear to school one day a week, and are responsible for keeping the uniform inspection-ready. Students pay for damage to the uniform out of their own pockets, which quickly teaches students the importance of taking good care of their belongings.
Last year, an unofficial survey determined that there were fewer detentions assigned school-wide on days that ROTC students wore their uniforms, said Way, so perhaps the uniforms encouraged more student respect even from kids who aren't in ROTC.
ROTC students also learn the importance of service outside the classroom. Last summer ROTC students helped sandbag prior to the devastating Souris River Flood and after the flood, helped clean out flooded homes. Some students took the initiative to continue cleaning flooded homes on an individual basis. The students received a Humanitarian Award for their efforts.
Color guard members performed during the Minot Public School Teachers Conference, in the Norsk Hstfest and during the Homecoming Parade and football game, as well as at other events. Students have also assisted with youth programs at Minot Air Force Base, for the Haunted House at the Base and Boo at the Zoo.