Daleville High School JROTC undergoes program inspection
The Warhawk Battalion at Daleville High School will continue to be considered an honor unit with distinction following a routine accreditation inspection for the school’s JROTC program on Thursday, March 14. Cadets underwent uniform inspection by Operations Specialist for Alabama Army JROTC Programs Jerome Gates and other National Guard officers, including the DHS National Guard Recruiter Staff Sgt. David Burgess. Executive Officer Cadet Maj. Joseph Gordon said the inspection and presentation are part of a process to ensure the Warhawk Battalion continues to be recognized as an honor unit with distinction. “We have the honor unit with distinction, and we want to keep that,” he said. “We want to keep this (distinction) as a reputation of a good unit that Daleville High School’s always had.” Burgess said JROTC programs teach students important skills and connects them with their communities. “(JROTC) teaches them leadership, comraderie, how to get along with others, team building,” he said. “It also allows them to get out in the community some, too.” He said one cadet he spoke to during the inspection told him about the battalion’s work in the community. “I think that’s a big part of it,” he said. He also said the battalion inspection gives the cadets a view of their program from an outside perspective. “It allows them to see an outside perspective of what they’re doing,” he said. “All of (the inspectors) being active duty National Guard or prior active service, we get to come in, and they can see what we look like, what we’ve done. “We get to talk to them. They get evaluated. They get to see what they’re doing (and) working towards, and it helps them have a better feeling of accomplishment, knowing that they’re actually doing something. During uniform inspections, cadets were also asked JROTC, military and other knowledge questions. The drill and color guard teams followed the battalion inspection with exhibition performances for inspectors. After the inspections of the battalion cadets, students received a briefing from the inspectors. Gates provided uniform maintenance tips, including those for shoes and the brass on the students’ uniforms. The other inspectors provided tips to make the battalion better as a whole, like with drill practices, and words of encouragement, reminding the cadets to have confidence in themselves and work together as a team. Following the inspection, the battalion staff presented information to Gates about the battalion’s continuous improvement project (CIP), as well as the its service learning project. The battalion staff set a goal to improve overall motivation, according to Battalion Commander Cadet Lt. Col. Jamie Peters. The statement of issue, which describes the reason for the continuous improvement project, stated that there was a lack of motivation to improve or learn “as a result of the increase in access to technology.” “Our goal is to revive motivation in cadets to learn and prosper,” she said. “The purpose of the goal is to improve the future of the cadets.” She said this goal can also affect cadets throughout the rest of their lives. “As stated directly in the mission, our JROTC mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens,” she said. “We want not only to motivate them, but we want to motivate them to be motivated.” Peters said battalion staff conducted a survey of the battalion at the beginning of the semester to discover how motivated cadets were and what cadets thought about the JROTC program in general. Questions on the survey included, “What do you like about JROTC? What do you not like?” and “How do you think JROTC might impact the rest of your life?” Peters told Gates that motivation in the battalion was around 50 percent at the time of the survey. She said other CIP strategies set by the staff to see more motivation and, in turn, improvement in some areas, included observations of other companies by the battalion commander and the executive officer and adding knowledge days as options or inclusions to PT days from Jan. 28-March 1. Peters said she hoped to have demonstrated improvement in knowledge and general motivation during weekly inspections by March 1, but that goal was unfortunately not met. “Our motivation goal is still a work in progress,” she said. “We’ve seen a definite improvement with how (cadets) wear the uniform… it has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year. The thing that we’re working on is the knowledge questions. “We’re constantly putting in the effort, and it’s not going to stop after (today).” She also explained that one obstacle the JRTOC met this school year was the change in school schedules, which moved from the block schedule to period schedule, shortening time spent in the classroom. At the end of the implementation of CIP strategies, Peters said motivation in the battalion has grown to around 70 percent, with more students showing interest in making an effort with uniform appearance and other factors. “I think we’ve improved a lot, but there are still a lot of things we can (improve),” she said. Peters also told Gates about events and competitions members of the battalion have been a part of during the past year. These events include multiple competitions, the Cadet Challenge on Fort Rucker in February, a performance by the unarmed exhibition drill team during the school’s Black History Month, presenting the colors at the Atlanta Hawks basketball game and more. Following the CIP presentation, Cadet Capt. Jose Deras, Cadet Pvt. First Class Rossy Briceno, Cadet Pvt. Anthony Nash and Cadet Cpl. Alana Gordon then discussed the battalion’s service learning project, which was inspired after members of the battalion laid wreaths on veterans’ graves in Daleville at Christmas. According to Briceno, the battalion found there is no record of the veterans buried in Daleville cemeteries. She said the service learning project team created a project plan for each battalion company to visit the cemeteries in Daleville on Friday, Feb. 22, to record names, branches, dates of birth and death for each veteran. Briceno said the project was a way for the battalion to “honor veterans” so the battalion could lay wreaths on the graves at Christmas and flags for Memorial Day. The project taught the service learning team how to coordinate with others, manage time for it to be completed during the school day with little interruption to cadet school days, delegation of duties and more. Deras also said the project taught cadets military customs and courtesies, citizenship and problem solving skills. Both Gordon and Peters said they are proud of the battalion and everyone who worked together to make the process run smoothly. “I’m proud of everybody that worked on presentations. I’m proud of everybody from the inspections. I’m just proud of you guys,” he said. Peters said the students showed that the DHS JROTC program was strong. “We are a distinguished battalion, and we want to keep it that way,” she said. “I’m very proud of all of (the cadets) to be able to do that and prove that they know what they need to know.” The battalion received a 96 on its accreditation inspection, keeping its honor unit with distinction status.