JACKSON – The township school district was honored during a recent school board meeting by members of the New Jersey 782nd Air Force Junior ROTC. In turn, the board recognized the program’s accomplishments.
ROTC representatives included Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles Latimer, Cadets Sandra Yambao, Sage Sebastian, Hannah Mahabir and Logan Lewis, and Major Michael Macagnone.
The district has been a partner with the ROTC since 1978 which marks a 40-year relationship between the Air Force group and the school system. The JROTC is an elective option for all high-school students enrolled at Jackson’s two high schools. Students must keep their grades up to remain in it.
According to the United States Air Force ROTC website, Air Force ROTC is a college program offered at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the U.S. It prepares you to become an Air Force Officer while earning a college degree. It also provides students the opportunity to get tuition money. The junior level involves high school students.
Superintendent Dr. Stephen Genco described the 782nd Air Force JROTC as a “distinguished unit. We are very proud of the unit.”
Latimer said that within the state ROTC has more than 800 units and “thousands of cadets. Jackson’s is the biggest in the state.”
“Our motto is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community,” Latimer added.
Cadet Yambao addressed the board during a PowerPoint presentation which outlined the unit’s activities at the school during the last year. She said that the unit was involved in “a campus cleanup, fundraising for the relay for life program fundraiser which benefits cancer research and other activities.”
“We’ve been on a number of field trips which are called ‘curriculum in action’ trips and we spend at least 12 hours on community service projects,” Yambao said.
School Board President Scott Sargent asked if the unit worked with the township cleanup program as part of their effort.
Latimer said that “not this time but we are looking into doing that in the future as we want to work closely with the community.”
Other community service projects that involved ROTC members in the district included assisting raising funds for Jackson Woman of Today’s food pantry and students spending a combined 2,650 hours toward community service efforts. They held their annual Tricky-Tray Gift Auction in February at Jackson Memorial High School.
One of the unit’s in action trips involved a visit to McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County which is part of the Joint Base.
The unit also racked up some impressive medals for competitions held at Pemberton High School. “We’ve also been involved with competitions at other high schools around the state,” Yambao said.
She added that the unit raised $11,285 during the past school year.
Latimer said that the school district “only provides funds for the instructors. There is no cost to the district for field trips. That is picked up by the Air Force.”
A Jackson JROTC Parent’s Group raises funds to provide scholarships to graduating seniors, assist with the cost of equipment for the drill teams, supplies for model airplane and rocket clubs, trips, Summer Leadership School and assists with the Annual Home Competition program.