JROTC: Magnet program attracts military students

| June 18, 2010 | 0 Comments

Story and Photos by
Lacey Justinger
Pau Hana Editor

The JROTC magnet program attracts students, left to right, like Xylia Lydgate from Sacred Hearts Academy, homeschooler Hoku Tamala and Tommy Takao from Punahou High School. Students use a compass in a land navigation course at Area X, Schofield Barracks.SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The Punahou High School JROTC magnet program draws in students from surrounding military communities on Oahu to participate in a program designed to develop lifelong leadership skills and community service initiatives in high school teenagers.

 The JROTC cadets attended a week of boots-on-ground adventure activities, June 7-11, where students — only a few weeks removed from air-conditioned classrooms — strapped on boots and sweated through their Army combat uniforms while camping in the woods at East Range, here.

“This is an intense week, ratcheted up to 150 mph and very different than other camps,” said retired Lt. Col. Bob Takao, the senior Army instructor for Punahou JROTC. “The students have adapted well; they’re not complaining and are very stout. We all might smell a little strong, but it’s all worthwhile.”

More than 50 students, half from the host school and half either homeschoolers or joining from a multitude of local schools that don’t offer a JROTC program, spent the week learning field skills and land navigation; conducting compass, confidence, obstacle and leadership reaction courses; rappelling; building and shimmying across rope bridges; and learning drown-proofing.     

“Punahou is the only school that allows homeschoolers like me to join JROTC,” said Josiah Gill, a ninth-grade family member of a Navy petty officer 2nd class. “Homeschool is easier for military kids rather than public or private school because we move around a lot. 

Dan Grocki, a JROTC cadet from Punahou, glances over his shoulder to make sure the belay line is being manned before desending down a rappel tower. Lt. Col. Bob Takao supervises. “This way, you take schoolbooks with you and are never behind in class because you never have to switch,” Gill continued, “but sometimes you do miss out on programs only offered through local schools.”

Gill joined the JROTC program for more physical activities on a daily basis, to learn discipline and to round out his education for college applications, especially if he pursues attending a naval academy, which he’s thinking about.

The JROTC program offers ninth-12th graders half a physical education credit and half a general elective credit for school curriculum-based JROTC classes in leadership development, health and first aid, government, geography and community service.

“I’m hoping JROTC will help toughen me up, get me more active and teach me leadership and responsibility, as I am looking to go into politics to help stand up for other people’s rights,” said Gage Moody, 11th-grade homeschooled family member of Staff Sgt. Benjamin Moody, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. 

“Punahou has the magnet program that allows me to join without going to that school, and they are the only one who has it,” he said.

Moody joined the JROTC magnet program this past school year only two months after arriving on island. He said the best part of the program was making new friends.

Robin Cone-Murakami, Punahou JROTC alumni cadet offers advice and answers to Junior ROTC Leadership Challenge cadets’ questions, as they eat Meals, Ready-to-eat while preparing to rappel after a land navigation course on Area X at Schofield Barracks.Takao agreed, saying the most important aspect of the program, like the military, is the lifelong camaraderie and friendships formed among the 120 cadets, headed only by Takao and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Mobley. 

“We couldn’t do it without the help of others, and the spirit of the military families is incredible,” Takao said. “There is big support from families. The parents are all behind it and do what they can to support us with cookouts or helping to find uniforms.” 

“This is like Little League but on a much bigger level,” Takao added. “We’re here to motivate young people to be better students and community members.”

 

The Punahou JROTC meets Wednesdays, 3-6 p.m., starting Sept. 1. 
Presently, there is no cost for magnet students to join. 
Call 258-4285 or e-mail rtakao@punahou.edu for more information.

 

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