ROTC cadets teach middle school students in JCORP

Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

December 6th, 2018 | News, News and Features

The U.S. Military Academy is about training leaders of character, and that idea has filtered down from training West Point cadets to West Point Middle School and Highland Falls Intermediate School with the JCORP or Junior Corps program, an offshoot of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The idea was the brain child of the West Point youth who participated in the Army community service teen Army Family Action Plan conference in 2014.
AFAP prioritized the need for a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps club at the WPMS.
The idea was supported by the garrison leadership, schools and retired Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., who was USMA superintendent at the time. After extensive research and collaboration, it was determined that JCORPS would be implemented and the program kicked off Jan. 7, 2016.
The JCORP met Nov. 19 and learned the steps and orders of the color guard.
“The youth from WPMS and HFIS meet after school under the leadership of the James I. O’Neill High School JROTC cadets,” Michi Carl, school liaison officer, said. “Each club is under the direction of a staff advisor from their school, and curriculum lessons are executed by the JROTC cadets.
Lessons include such topics as flag etiquette, drill and ceremonies, customs and courtesies all while encouraging character, citizenship and leadership.”
It is a way to instill communication, responsibility and life skills into the youth and motivate them to become better citizens and better leaders.
Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District funds transportation to pick up middle school students from the WPMS and the HFIS and bring them to James I. O’Neill High School and picks the students up again. Meetings usually runs from 3-4:15 p.m. every other week at the high school.
“The goal is to help students become better students,” retired Lt. Col. Silas Bowman, commander of the program and JROTC cadets, said. “It is also intended to grow better citizens and to be more respectful and more disciplined.
“The high school kids (JROTC) also win because once they achieve success, it starts to bleed into their work,” Bowman continued. “One student last year did very little in high school, but he is now teaching in this program and he is on a junior varsity team.”
High school junior Paul Podias is the drill commander for the JROTC and was one of the first middle school children to become a member of JCORPS. Podias also has his eye on a military career.
Hugh Goffinet, a junior, helped teach the youth the protocols of the color guard and has been in the JROTC for a year.
“Both of my parents are in the military,” Goffinet said. “I am not sure yet if I want to go into the military, it’s a lot of commitment. One or both of my parents were deployed on and off and that is kind of a disruption in routine. My dad is in the reserves and is away.”
Freshman Ricardo Fregoso said this is his first year as a member of the JROTC and the first year of volunteering to teach the JCORPS.
“I have been thinking of a military career,” Fregoso said. “I want to be a pilot. I would like to go to the Air Force Academy or West Point.”
Fregoso said he enjoys teaching the youth in JCORPS and enjoys the JROTC.
“The JCORPS program is also a great way for the seventh and eighth graders from both schools to meet each other prior to their freshman year,” Carl said.
“The JCORPS cadets also learn to perform the color guard routine that the school principals can use for assemblies and other events.”