• New cadets join ranks of Junior ROTC

  • LHS JROTC welcomes new cadets.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The new schoolyear is approaching and a fresh set of cadets is already learning about the Army Junior ROTC program with more than 50 high school students attending the New Cadet Academy Aug. 2 at Leavenworth High School.
    “One of the biggest things that we’re striving for with the new cadets today is just to get them used to the program,” said Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Dalton White, a junior at LHS. “So, for those kids that are kind of on the edge, it takes them through the day and gets them used to it. It filters out the ones that want to be here and the ones that don’t.”
    During the three-hour academy, the cadets learned about drill and ceremony, the battalion companies, ranks, company and battalion positions, military courtesy, cadre and cadet leadership, promotions and cycles, and were fitted for their uniforms.
    “The academy is a great chance for a head start on basic administration stuff,” White said. “It’s a relief on the Army instructors.”
    The cadets also got a chance to learn about the special teams they can join in JROTC including academic team, cannon crew, cadet chorus, color guard, drum and bugle, the Pioneer Guard armed drill team, leadership team, Raider team, rifle team, saber team, junior guard and the Cavalry Angels unarmed drill team.
    “I recommend getting involved right away,” Cadet Capt. John Yates, LHS senior, told the cadets. “I was a lazy freshman and I didn’t really do anything. Once I started, I loved it. So, do as many things as you can do.”
    The new cadets had different reasons for wanting to join JROTC.
    “I wanted to get more knowledge about the JROTC program,” said Samantha Lendo, a sophomore at LHS. “There’s a lot of different information that I haven’t gotten through word of mouth. So, I figured coming here would be a really good opportunity to be able to talk to the staff members and get more information about the program.”
    Lendo said she hopes to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., after high school and eventually become an Army Judge Advocate General officer.
    Sahra Smallwood, LHS freshman, said she thought JROTC would help her figure out if she was interested in joining the military.
    “My parents are in the military so they thought it would be beneficial for me to see what it’s like in JROTC,” Smallwood said. “I also like to meet new people.”
    Robert Temple, LHS freshman, said he wanted to join JROTC after participating in junior guard at Patton Junior High School.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Junior guard was a lot of fun and I liked competing at the other schools,” Temple said. “I (participated in junior guard) with my sister and we came here and watched all the other JROTC teams and it was amazing watching them perform.”
    While the academy was the first sense of the program for most of the cadets, Victoria Castagneto, LHS sophomore, had a head start having been a part of a Marine JROTC program in Alabama her freshman year.
    “The Marine JROTC, they held a really high expectation and high standards,” she said. “You got promoted based on your leadership and how you conducted yourself during school.
    “We walked around the school in uniform and if someone saw you doing something out of regulations, you could get in a lot of trouble because that’s disrespecting Marines,” Castagneto said.
    Castagneto said she enjoyed Marine JROTC but was looking forward to Army JROTC.
    “I never intended on joining the Marines,” she said. “The Army, it helps with leadership and just building a good personality and good morals. My mother is in the Army (and) I just want to be like her.”
    Though JROTC has an obvious military component, Battalion Commander Cadet Lt. Col. Daylan Williams, a senior at Lansing High School, said that’s not the main point of the program.
    “It’s a citizenship-building program that will build you to where you need to be in life,” Williams said. “It’s a community of people. Everyone here together has a main goal that we’re focused on, always improving, always bettering ourselves.
    “Today, if they take away anything from it, it’s that community aspect. Hopefully that’s why they come back to start the program,” he said.
    White said the cadets support each other.
    “You build a lot of camaraderie through the program,” he said. “You get to know other people and those people help support you through the program.”
    For more information on the LHS JROTC program, visit lhs.usd453.org.
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