Here’s why Prosper doesn’t have a JROTC program – yet

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Caleb Audia

Eagle Nation Online Reporter Caleb Audia covers the reasoning behind the delayed implementation of a Junior Reserve Officers Corps program within the school district. Administrators site COVID-19 restrictions, funding allocations and infrastructure expansions for the reasons. “If Prosper had a JROTC program I would join,” junior Emily Patel said. “It would allow me to gain great leadership experience.”

Caleb Audia, Reporter

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The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and other military-related extracurricular activities could potentially come to Prosper, but not yet.

When the district first looked into adding a JROTC program, superintendent Holly Ferguson said administrators had to halt the planning due to complications related to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We were moving forward and had ongoing meetings,” Ferguson said. “Then COVID-19 occurred, so we did not get a chance to continue.”

With many career-related courses offered within the school, such as a variety of Career Technology Education classes, students eyeing military paths have been requesting programs that could lead to their post-secondary plans, as well.

“I’m excited that the military is growing with more career fields and choices,” junior Abigail Griffith said. “I’m excited to see what these changes will bring. A JROTC program could give benefit to students aspiring competitive training within the military, giving access to regular routines that students in ROTC programs go through, such as physical training and specific educational-value classes.”

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The federal government established Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps programs to teach skills involving citizenship, service, responsibility, accomplishment and leadership.  According to the rules governing the programs, JROTC classes are designed to help students who are eyeing potential military-based careers with the foundational concepts and studies of the armed forces of the United States. While the JROTC program does not ensure military enrollment or active duty, the program prepares students for college-level ROTC programs through physical tests, formations, basic military background education and scholarship opportunities.

“I plan on applying for an ROTC scholarship, specifically to Baylor,” junior Abigail Griffith said. “If there was a JROTC program offered here, it would be a great experience to know what’s ahead, especially for those who haven’t decided their career path yet. There are many opportunities within military branches by enlisting as an officer out of a ROTC program, and the foundation of a JROTC program within Prosper would be a great jump-starter for students eyeing any sort of military path.”

The United States Military has many different branches, each with its own custom JROTC missions, trainings and jobs.

“Our plans are to start this application process back up when restrictions from the pandemic are raised,” Ferguson said. “I am open to any, but I would love to see the Air Force in Prosper ISD.”

The Army, the Marines, the Air Force, the Space Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard all have different educational and physical requirements as well.

“Personally, I’m moving toward the Air Force as there are more opportunities for people who want to become pilots,” Griffith said. “Not only that, but the Air Force has a great reputation for the aviation industry, as well.”

Upon commissioning to a branch’s ROTC program in college, students will be required to request active-duty service if they stay within the program past their junior year, and students who receive active duty slots will enter their military branch as an officer. Students then are required to serve at least four to six years upon graduation unless they are a pilot or navigator, who are expected to serve 10 years or more. In addition, college students who are enrolled in ROTC activities will receive up to $500 monthly for living and school expenses and are eligible for a plethora of scholarships that help cover tuition.

“If Prosper had a JROTC program, I would join,” junior Emily Patel said. “It would allow me to gain great leadership experience.”

The commitment to start a program, however, can involve extensive preparation, according to Principal John Burdett.

“It could take many years,” principal Dr. John Burdett said. “There are many different requirements and levels of approval that the school has to go through.”

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Yet, students like Patel said they still would like to see the program become a reality.

“I want to join the military because I want to gain the leadership experience, and I would gain skills,” Patel said. “A JROTC program could give me a headstart in leadership building scenarios, as well as giving me access to a definite schedule and performance training. There would be more opportunities to meet with other students who are working towards the same career path as me. After high school, I am hoping to go to West Point.”

Patel gave other specific reasons she hopes the administration adds the program here.

“A JROTC program could help my future career,” Patel said. “It could give me an insight into what military life is like.”