ROTCpplROTCcoleYoung students prepare for future through the ROTC

by Jane Eskildsen, ’15 and Ella Koscher, ‘15

With the future approaching, students begin to think about how they wish to spend their time after high school. Some simply dream of making it to graduation. Some look forward to college. For a lower percentage, however, their future include service to their country.

Junior Cole Cartmille is one of these students. In addition to college, Cartmille also plans to join the military in the future.

To prepare for this major commitment, Cartmille joined the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program at the beginning of his junior year, which is the first year a student can join.

AFJROTC is a partnership between the United States Air Force and Columbus City Schools that aims to prepare young students who are dedicated to serving their nation and community.

Cartmille has seen that the AFJROTC has promoted better leadership and citizenship qualities within himself and other members. The intention of the program is to do just that.

“The goal of the Air Force ROTC is to make the students better citizens and better leaders,” Cartmille said. “[It helps you] make yourself a better person and follow your goals.”

Master Sergeant Grant Gibson is the Aerospace Science instructor of AFJROTC and is a retired Air Force officer. He is responsible for instructing Physical Fitness, Drill and Ceremonies and all the Leadership Curriculum.

“The goal of the program is to instill in high school cadets the values of: citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment,” Gibson said.

Each day, Junior ROTC members do physical training and take classes in his or her area of military interest. For Cartmille, these classes include Aerospace Science, Aviation History and Leadership Education.

Junior ROTC members are also introduced to alternate experiences outside the classroom.

“Our Cadets have exposure to many different opportunities for giving back to their community through community service projects,” Gibson said. “They are also introduced to many elected officials at all levels of government.”

Gibson is confident that Cadets leave the program “with a sense of accomplishment and direction for the real world.”

An ambition of AFJROTC is to provide cadets with different paths to take after high school. Cartmille has been debating whether or not he wants to enlist in the military after high school or go to college and join College ROTC first.

College ROTC is an option for students at over 1,000 campuses across America. The program helps students gain leadership skills for the military and gives an opportunity for scholarships.

No matter what Cartmille’s decision will be, he is committed to his future in the military, and he gives thanks to the Junior Air Force ROTC for helping him in this process.

“[ROTC] has changed my life in a lot of different ways, it gave me more insight on the military,” Cartmille said. “It has taught me more good life habits.”

Post high school choices for Junior ROTC members are similar to the choices of any other high schooler: college, the military or the work force. A large portion of Junior ROTC graduates move on to college or choose to join the military.

The program, however, is not exclusively for young people who wish to join the military. It is designed to prepare students to be better citizens for the future, no matter what life they choose to lead.

“[AFJROTC] develops citizens of character…,” Gibson said. “…dedicated to serving their nation and community.”

Image caption: Aerospace Science Instructor MSgt Grant Gibson (left), Cadet Corp Commander Cadet/Lt Col Matthew Young, Cadet/Airman Dillon Treglia, Cadet/Airman William McKenzie and Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Major Ben Klepek pose in their uniforms. The Cadets train in the Junior ROTC every day to prepare for their futures.

Image caption: Junior Cole Cartmille poises in his ARJROTC uniform. Cartmille joined this program that the beginning of junior year.

Images courtesy Grant Gibson