MIDWEST CITY — Members of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at one high school have made it a mission to take what they are learning and apply it to their future careers.
Cadets with the Midwest City High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps have one goal in mind: serving the community.
“Our program is there to give those individuals an opportunity to try things they may not have had the opportunity to try,” said Alexander Means, aerospace science instructor for the program in the Midwest City-Del City school district.
Means said he encourages students to be active by volunteering with food pantries and clothing drives and having a student representative at city council meetings, which helps them see the bigger picture.
Cadets are required to participate in community service projects and will be volunteering this semester at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter and the food bank.
“It gives them an opportunity … to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves,” Means said.
Cadets currently are participating in a drive with a goal of collecting 300 articles of clothing, and are expecting to surpass their goal.
Means said JROTC aids students who want to go to college or the U.S. Air Force, and it also helps those who have not found a niche in high school.
“Everybody has that capability to lead,” Means said. “One of the things we believe strongly in is trying to figure out what is in each individual.
“If you give a kid pride in their community, you give a kid pride in themselves.”
Going to college is a priority for several of the students, Means said, and he has asked former cadets to come back and speak to the class.
“Of course everybody’s parents want to see their kids go off to college,” said Janessa Harris, a junior who does public affairs for the program.
“In my family there is a lot of people who went to college but did not really finish out. I want to be that one who finishes it,” Harris said.
Senior-level students are encouraged to share their future plans on the senior send-off wall, where they place their future college logo, branch of military or job on a piece of paper with their code name.
“Personally I have learned discipline; this is just something that I see most teenagers do not have,” said Keishon Rose, a senior and corps commander for the program.
“A lot of students feel like it is just hard stuff, though it is a lot of hard work,” Harris said. “I just feel like if you don’t give up, and continue to push yourself, then you can get there.”