The Echoes

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Senior Master Sergeant William Runk stands in front of his office, currently located in the old high school building

Senior Master Sergeant William Runk stands in front of his office, currently located in the old high school building

Andrew Eccles

Andrew Eccles

Senior Master Sergeant William Runk stands in front of his office, currently located in the old high school building

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Next year, this universal military term may be heard echoing through the hallways as the school unveils its JROTC program.

The program has been in consideration for years. While visiting different schools to get ideas for the remodel, school officials were impressed with the JROTC program they saw in Garden City, KS.

Following the visit, school officials decided to apply to both Army and Air Force to be considered for a JRTOC program. The Air Force application was approved last year.

“We felt it was something that would provide an opportunity

for kids to get involved with, that may not want to get involved with the things we currently have,” Principal Mike Halley said.

There are no requirements for students to join JROTC, and anyone can join regardless of grades or grade level.

Uniforms, which will be worn on a specified day of the week, will be provided by the Air Force with no expense to the students, as long as they are not lost or damaged.

Instructors are hired to teach classes and manage the program.

Instructors first have to apply to be a JROTC instructor. When a nearby program opens, the applicants are chosen to work for it.

One of those applicants, Senior Master Sergeant William Runk, was accepted and became an instructor at SHS recently.  SMSgt Runk was previously employed by the school district in the receiving department.

Runk is a 22 year Air Force veteran. His career field was in the Security Forces, which is the Air Force law enforcement. This includes nuclear security, aircraft security, and other things.

He later became a small arms weapon instructor, where he found his interest in teaching.

He was in JROTC in high school, which he initially joined because of the scholarship opportunities, however, he found an interest in the military and decided to join.

Although a majority of the program is being paid for by the military, SMSgt Runk said it is important to know JROTC is not a recruiting program, and students are encouraged to join even if they have no plans to enter the military.

In fact, only about a fourth of JROTC members enter the military after high school.

There will be a focus on STEM education, as well as other career paths. The school plans to incorporate the classes into the career academy eventually.

The program serves to help students learn and improve leadership, self-discipline, citizenship, self-confidence, and teaching skills. Other things such as model rocketry, radio controlled aircraft, and drones will be part of the curriculum, as well as skills such as filling out applications, completing resumes, and community service.

  Classes are organized by grade level, and each grade will learn things in accordance to the program. Subjects learned range from Aviation History to Global Awareness.

Aside from classes, members can involve themselves in things such as the Color Guard, the group that posts the flags. Classes will be done during a set class period each day.

Students in JROTC can earn scholarships, and can automatically advance their rank if they do end up joining the military, setting them at an advantage compared to others.

Another instructor is on the way soon, who will work with SMSgt Runk.

The hardest challenge the program faces is enrollment. Although there are high hopes for the program, there have to be a certain number of members involved in order to keep it operating here.

The JROTC program plans to expand and continue to grow over time. SMSgt Runk said the benefits students receive in the programs will be a great incentive to join, and it will be a great experience for those who are interested.

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