The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 28, 2013

‘Ten-hut!’

Junior ROTC program takes off at Danville High

DANVILLE — For some Danville High School students, Junior ROTC offers them a bit of structure and focus during their often chaotic teen years.

For others, it’s about learning leadership skills and how to become a better citizen. And still for others who might not have a father figure in their life, the Junior ROTC gives them the discipline and encouragement they have been missing.

About 130 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, signed up for Junior ROTC when it was first offered in the second semester.

A month into the program, the Junior ROTC still boasts 120 students or “cadets” — 60 percent boys and 40 percent girls — despite its rigorous physical training and discipline requirements.

Lt. Col. Tim Merriott, who leads the program with Sgt. Major Emas Griffin, said the number of girls enrolled in the program is not surprising.

“There are a number of strong personalities among the girls, and they want to learn leadership skills,” Merriott said.

In fact, shortly after the program started, Merriott fielded a phone call from the mother of an eighth-grade girl who inquired how to sign up her daughter for the program when she enters high school next year.

Cadet Myranda Mikel said she joined Junior ROTC because “it’s new and I wanted to try something different.”

“I signed up on my own because it looked interesting to me. It looked fun,” she said. “My mom and dad were like, ‘Why do you want to do that?’”

The sophomore, who is considering applying for the Air Force Academy when she graduates high school, admitted that the physical training aspect of the program “can be hard.”

“But it’s conditioning for us,” she said. “We do a lot of pushups.”

Cadet Nolan First, a DHS junior, said, “I like it. They push us, but I thought we would be doing obstacle courses.

“I’m planning on joining the National Guard, and (Junior ROTC) teaches leadership skills and respect for others,” he said. “It helps me to challenge myself to be a leader.”

Nolan praised Merriott and Griffin for their rapport with the cadets.

“Colonel and Sergeant Major have a good grasp on how to talk to the students,” he said. “They don’t go all military on us. You can tell they care about the students.”

Both Myranda and Nolan said they were a little surprised by some of the students who signed up for Junior ROTC.

“There are people who signed up that I didn’t think would, and they act differently now,” Nolan said. “It teaches them respect and discipline. Formation drills also teach you to be focused and not to be distracted.

“I think if anyone wants stability in their life, they should give it a try,” he added.

Myranda agreed. “The younger age kids I think will be more mature by the end of this (program).”

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the cadets listen to the two longtime servicemen lecture about leadership, a variety of topics such as how to fold an American flag and other life skills. The lectures encourage cadets to use critical thinking and are interactive, with each cadet using clicker-like technology to answer questions that are presented.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, cadets spend their class time in the gym, doing pushups, running laps and practicing formation drills.

For those cadets who feel especially ambitious, Merriott offers extracurricular physical training, which entails doing 100 side straddle hops, 100 pushups, 100 sit ups and 100 boot slappers plus running a mile in less than 8½ minutes.

“This is for the ones who really want to push themselves,” Merriott said, adding that four cadets usually join him on the jaunt.

The U.S. Army develops the curriculum for the four-year program of mandated activities and elective activities or LETs (leadership education training).

The Army pays for the curriculum and the cadets’ uniforms that they soon will be wearing in the hallways at DHS.

“We teach them how to tie a tie because, surprisingly, a lot of them don’t know how to tie a tie,” Merriott said.

Junior ROTC is part of the high school’s GLOBAL House, and students who are enrolled in the one-period-a-day, five-days-a-week program earn an elective credit and receive a physical education waiver.

“Being in Junior ROTC also helps them get a scholarship if they go into ROTC at a university or gives them an extra stripe (or higher rank) if they choose to go into the service,” Merriott said.

“We want it to be an encouragement for them,” he added. “We want them all to have the opportunity to move to the next level.”

Eventually, Danville’s Junior ROTC program will establish a drill team, color guard and an air rifle team, all of which will compete against other high schools with Junior ROTC programs.

On a typical day when cadets enter the classroom, they stand next to their desks until the class leader, who is a fellow cadet, tells them to sound off, which is the cadets’ cue to recite the Junior ROTC creed.

“We’re not here to promote the military,” Merriott said. “We’re here to teach good citizenship, and you have to give them a value system to build from.”

The cadet creed is the foundation of Junior ROTC program.

“Some are here because they want to learn more about the military; some want to be in better shape; and some are here because they want to learn to be better disciplined,” Merriott said.

“A lot of them want to learn good leadership skills and to become better citizens,” he added.

Of the 10 who dropped out of the program early on, Merriott said, “There were some who didn’t want to take orders, and we expect certain things, one of which is respect.”

The program also focuses on personal accomplishments and being recognized for it by receiving ribbons for good grades and other achievements as the cadets go through the program.

That kind of recognition and praise is often missing from students’ lives.

Merriott said when he first met with DHS Principal Mark Neil, an advocate of the program, Neil told him “you may be the only father figure they have.”

Merriott has seen first-hand the challenges some of his cadets face, particularly in their home life.

When Merriott asked the cadets to buy a $5 DHS gym shirt and to wear appropriate workout clothing and shoes for physical training, he was surprised when only a third of the cadets had bought the shirt. He was even more surprised by the number of cadets who didn’t have gym shoes.

“Some kids didn’t have the money for PT clothes and shoes,” he said, adding that he brought in some of his own teenage sons’ shoes from home for the cadets.

“It’s a new challenge every day. All of these kids have such dynamics in their home lives,” he said.

Still, Merriott said he already is seeing how the program is building cadets’ confidence and self-esteem.

“The best thing I love is the shine in their eyes that you’re reaching them,” he said. “I’m reaching them and teaching them skills for life.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Three face robbery charges DANVILLE — Three men were booked without bond Tuesday in connection with the robbery of a downtown jewelry store.Donovan Wheeler, 29, of the 300 block of Bradley Lane; John Billips Jr., 23, of the 200 block of East Roselawn Avenue; and Jabari O’Conno

    July 31, 2014

  • Georgetown Fair ready for annual run DANVILLE — One of the big fair attractions of the summer kicks off this weekend in Vermilion County.The annual Georgetown Fair begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 9.Don Hackler is president of the Georgetown Fair Board. Both he and the group of 24

    July 31, 2014

  • NWS-CN 7-31 VA employee photo Jaycees select VA employee for award DANVILLE — Bryan Stewart, coordinator of the Veterans Transportation Program for the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System, was selected as one of the Outstanding Young People of 2014 by the Junior Chamber International Senate with the Jaycees.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls:Tuesday, 11:23-11:32 a.m. — A medical call in the 200 block of West Voorhees Street.Tuesday, 1:30-1:45 p.m. — A natural gas leak at 107 S. Jefferson St.Tuesday, 1:41-1:59 p.m. — An accident on Interstate

    July 31, 2014

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include:DanvilleMonday:Theft in the 100 block of North Logan Avenue.Tuesday:A man and woman arrested for domestic battery at Fairchild and Moore streets.Retail theft at Meijer, 3649 N. Vermilion St.Wednesday:A man arreste

    July 31, 2014

  • Group to help Mission

    July 30, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    July 30, 2014

  • Fire Calls Firefighters responded to the following calls:Monday, 11-11:04 a.m. — An unintentional alarm activation at 1714 E. Fairchild St.Monday, 1:01-1:10 p.m. — A medical call in the 1200 block of Cleveland Street.Monday, 3:59-4:16 p.m. — A carbon monoxide i

    July 30, 2014

  • YMCA offers new college, career program DANVILLE — The Danville Family YMCA plans to launch a new college and career readiness program during the 2014-2015 school year called YMCA Achievers. YMCA Achievers is a college and career readiness program offered at more than 1,400 YMCAs across th

    July 30, 2014

  • DATS begins East Main discussion DANVILLE — The Danville Area Transportation Study, along with the city and The Lakota Group, invite the public to join them in a new way to help imagine the future of Danville’s East Main Street Corridor. An online virtual public engagement forum has

    July 30, 2014

E-edition
Spring 2014 Photos


Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Must Read