GlenOak at attention

Two GlenOak students describe their experience in the JROTC program at Green High School.


“We have a chain of command within our program, and they get to experience hands-on leadership, we make our upperclassmen teach class, so their communication skills are really advanced by being in the program as well,” VanNatta said. Eagle photos courtesy of Kevin Wright and Colleen VanNatta.

There are many options for GlenOak students after high school. Whether it be college, trade school, going straight to work, or the military, the decision comes down to the student to decide what is best for them. It seems like the latter is usually a hit or a miss for some people, but for two GlenOak students, they have already gotten started. 

JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, ‘JROTC teaches young men and women the kind of self-discipline, self-confidence, and leadership skills that can help them successfully meet the challenges of adulthood.’ The JROTC Program is run by retired Armed Forces officers at many high schools across the United States. 

GlenOak does not offer the program at this time. However, the school does allow for many students to participate in Career Tech programs outside of the district.  Sophomore Kevin Wright and freshman Michael Husk spend every school morning at Green High School to participate in JROTC.

I want to go into the military in the future, and I thought it would be a good step in that process,” Wright said.

Although JROTC is a great step towards joining the military, there is absolutely no military obligation when you join the program. JROTC is not all about the military, as some people think. There are many skills that can be applied to many aspects in life that you earn and strengthen through JROTC.

I’ve learned more in terms of being socially active, and being a leader. I’ve also learned about making your own goals, being more organized, and being respectful,” Wright said.

The Green High School AF (Air Force) JROTC program is instructed by Lieutenant Colonel Colleen VanNatta. This is VanNatta’s fourth year teaching, and she is retired from the Air Force. In order to instruct a JROTC program, you have to be retired. 

The JROTC week is divided up for the many different activities that its students participate in. Monday and Tuesday are reserved for smaller assignments, Wednesday is uniform inspection day, Thursday is for drills and ceremonies, and Friday is the day for physical training. 

Wednesday is a day that requires great attention to detail. At the end of the quarter, the students within the program receive different awards, as well as a promotion of rank. Best Uniform Inspection grades is just one of the awards that someone could receive. 

“You would have the responsibilities of your shoes being shined, and your uniform ironed. You get about 5-10 minutes to check that your uniform is correct, and you can ask an upperclassman to check and make sure you look good. They go head to toe and make sure your hair is in the right regulation. It can’t exceed 3 inches in length or 2 inches on the side, and you have to have a perfect shave. They even check your socks,” Wright said. 

Conversely, Friday is more of a free day for the students, as they spend more time focusing on staying healthy and in shape, as well as developing their physical strength. Green’s JROTC program even offers different teams for the students to try out for within the program. The Drill and Fitness Team are just two of the teams the students have the option to join.

“We spend so much time together. We go out of town for competitions, we train together, our cadets become very very close. It’s really like another family,” VanNatta said.

Overall, the JROTC program teaches students to be responsible for themselves and others. It gives its students a chance to feel mature and independent, while still being part of a team.

Whether you want to join the military, learn a new set of skills, or even just be a part of a team, JROTC may be the program for you. Students that are interested in joining the AFJROTC Program at Green High School next school year, must talk to their guidance counselor. The class is a one block period of time for five days a week. This means that you will have the class on both A days and B days. 

“It makes you a whole new person. You’re more respectful, you show that you care and that you’re committed, and you have many opportunities presented to you through the program,” Wright said. 

JROTC is something that takes dedication, effort, attention to detail, and commitment. Both Wright and Husk continue to express their gratitude for the program, and the benefits that it has provided for them so far. 

“I have gained so much more physical strength, and I’ve learned a lot more about respect,” Husk said.

Despite the fact that Husk and Wright have to get up a few hours earlier in order to make it to JROTC, they feel that the benefits make it worthwhile. Perhaps they will have a few more ‘GlenOak Goblins’ coming with them to Green next year.