Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Forest Park, IL...Four cadets from Proviso West High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and two cadets from the Proviso East High School NJROTC program recently participated in the 12th Annual NJROTC Leadership Academy at Naval Station Great Lakes near North Chicago.
From June 23 to 29, they joined more than 140 NJROTC cadets from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and West Virginia in learning leadership traits, technical shipboard tasks, and sailing as well as math and science concepts.
"They pick up the leadership skills and teach other cadets," said Mr. Patrick Falsey, an NJROTC instructor at Proviso East. "It’ll give them a role model to follow. It’s always a reward for good cadets. It’ll expose them to how other schools do business."
Austin Murray, 17 and a Proviso East senior, and Augustine Smith, 16, a Proviso East junior, said that they learned and saw much during their week at Great Lakes, which hosts the Navy’s only recruit boot camp. They said that they learned more about drilling competitions, or contests that rely on the cadets' timing on marching with rifles and movement.
"They showed a lot of how they would do in competition," Austin said. "It was the little things that made the difference."
Kevin Ramos and Jackson McKennie, Proviso West seniors, were joined at the academy by Nesita Smith, a fellow senior, and Luis Perez, a junior. Jackson spoke of being tested throughout the week, including physical training and learning the different parts of a boat.
"We were interacting with different things, and we were taking in a lot of information all at once," Jackson said.
Commander Gerard Egler, an NJROTC instructor at Proviso West, said that District 209 schools have been involved with the Leadership Academy for its entire 12-year run. He said that the students had great experiences while there.
"The bigger thing is they meet other cadets from around the area and in some cases, around the country," he said. "It’s a lot of fun and second, it’s very competitive. It’s the best kids from each unit and they compete against one another."
The cadets said that they gained some perspective on military life that they not only plan to bring back to their units at school, but also in life. Jackson, Kevin, and Austin said that they were planning to go into the Army after graduation, while Augustine said that he was considering pursuing engineering in the Navy.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the NJROTC units at Proviso East and Proviso West have been among the success stories of the district. She said that the students’ attendance at the Leadership Academy could only improve on that.
"We always seek ways to improve what we have in our district, and the NJROTC cadets’ attendance at the Leadership Academy is a good way of doing this," she said. "The NJROTC units are among the things in our district of which we are proud, and I am confident that with what they learned, they will continue to make us proud."