On Their Way To Stars And Stripes

They are the ones who storm the hallways clad in uniforms.
It is the corridor tucked back by the athletic wing with bold proud letters announcing its presence above the metal double doors. But could it mean more than the preconceived notion of their surrounding student body?
To those part of the Rider Battalion, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) has a deeper meaning than just a PE credit on their schedules.
For some, the extracurricular symbolizes the selfless ideal of going above and beyond in their community.
“It’s really a leadership group,” S1 Cintia Vickery said. “We really learn to step up in school and the community.
Other students don’t really know about it, but we do, and we just do a lot to improve.”
For others the program represents on a more introspective level. Cadet Austin Laughlin is a physical training captain in JROTC where he helps facilitate exercise among other cadets. He encourages physically demanding activity because he says it shows how much a person is willing to work.
“If I feel like I want to give up or I want to quit, I know I have responsibilities or duties I have to fulfill and I know I have to continue,” Laughlin said. “It teaches me to carry on even when I don’t want to sometimes, and I think that’s an important life skill.”
Joining JROTC for some cadets is as much about honoring their family’s past as it is about pursuing their own interests. Ronnie Wherry, a drill captain, said he wanted to join the military for his family and also because he aspires to be in the Marine Corps as a security forces man, and hopefully later be with a reconnaissance group.
“It’s just a family legacy that my whole family has done,” Wherry said “and I want to keep on with that.”
Likewise, Jacqueline Zeizinger originally joined JROTC because her father was in the German Air Force and she thought she should know a little about the military.
“I kept with it because I just loved it, and I was so interested in it,” Zeizinger said.
Large portions of cadets recognize the program as a liaison to help them achieve their dreams. Jackie wants to one day be a doctor in the United States Air Force, and John Rines, acting first sergeant in JROTC , desires to become an F-15 fighter pilot in the Air force.
“I like to fly,” Rines said. “I’ve liked it since I was a little boy.”
Rines realizes that if he wants to get accepted into the Air Force Academy in Colorado, he has to take his time and academic career seriously.
“[I joined JROTC because] it gives me a good idea of how the military is going to be like” Rines said.
Other than being in a leadership position, Rines has taken a proactive step towards his goals by studying to get his private pilot’s license before he graduates high school.
The participants want students to know the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps isn’t just a conglomerate of like-minded people or a physical structure, but rather an ideal: the embodiment of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
It’s a program that sculpts the leaders of tomorrow with discipline, perseverance, and mostly respect.
“Respect,” Rines said, “isn’t something given, it’s something that has to be earned.”