JROTC instructors impact lives beyond the uniform

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Members of the McNary High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps present the colors at a recent park dedication. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Members of the McNary High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps present the colors at a recent park dedication. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

For the Keizertimes

Nothing can compare to McNary High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). This is the organization’s second year at McNary. It has made the high school a better place; it has made better citizens. JROTC may be McNary’s best addition to the school in recent years.

The leaders of McNary’s JROTC are Master Sgt. Robbie Ellis and Maj. Robert Garcia. To them the program is more than just preparing leaders for the Air Force. Their purpose is to make better, more confident human beings.

Being the leaders, they are able to “build better character in the students,” and they “help motivate students to do great things,” declared Ellis.

Not only are the JROTC students impacted, but the entire student body is affected. JROTC has been a positive change for McNary. Ellis realizes that JROTC has promoted “respect for the flag,” and it has created “the idea of representing something greater than themselves.”

It is obvious that many people have learned a thing or two from Ellis and Garcia, but the master sergeant and major have discovered some valuable lessons as well. Working with students has taught them “to always have an open mind and to deal with each individual differently because they are all unique,” said Ellis.

In fact, it is right to treat each and every human being as one of a kind because no one is identical. Everyone has his or her own character.

Cadet Ronald Erwin, a senior, is one example of countless individuals that have become better people due to JROTC. Erwin knows that JROTC and its leaders have taught him “to be a better person and have emotional control.”

He also mentioned that the cadets learn to speak up and talk. Before JROTC, some students did not know how much value is in their voice. Confidence is built because they realize how important they are in the world.

“McNary has changed greatly. There is more respect,” commented Erwin – thanks to contributions of JROTC. Respect is truly a contagious behavior.

Freshman Collin Roberts spoke highly of JROTC. “Responsibility and always doing the right thing” are emphasized by the leaders Ellis and Garcia. The JROTC program is not just rigor and rectitude; the environment is “fun” too, commented Roberts.

Another senior, Tristan Briggs, said, “It changed my life. The leaders push you.”

A sense of community is a priority for JROTC. Briggs shared that some of the kids “never had anyone look at them, and now people are always greeted.” The students know that they have significance.

JROTC has really paid off for Briggs. He is one example of a great accomplishment. Briggs was accepted to the Air Force Academy. Hard work and determination were his tools to receiving this honor.

It takes good people to influence so many people like what Ellis and Garcia are doing. Adding the Air Force JROTC to McNary, was a great decision. Those enrolled in the program are something greater than themselves. The meaning of JROTC is expressed by three words: integrity, service, and excellence. “First integrity. Service before self.  Excellence in all we do.”

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