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GHS JROTC enlists aid of Georgiana, McKenzie cadets

Cadet Captain Olivia Powell calls out cadences to the Greenville High School JROTC battalion.

Cadet Captain Olivia Powell calls out cadences to the Greenville High School JROTC battalion.

All three Butler County public schools are now marching to the beat of a single drum, thanks to the county’s Career Technical Education (CTE).

Greenville High School’s JROTC program has grown in size thanks in part to the inclusion of cadets from the southern half of the county.

2015 saw the inclusion of Georgiana cadets to the fold, and this year has introduced six new cadets from McKenzie School.

Col. Alan Hester, JROTC senior army instructor at Greenville High School, said that the Georgiana and McKenzie students are a result of growing interest among their communities to start participating in their own events—such as the presentation of colors during football games and establishing a color guard during their respective parades—as a way to give back to their own communities.

“JROTC is a part of the Career Technical Education, so not only are they coming for JROTC, but they’re coming for industrial maintenance, maybe culinary arts and some other programs,” Hester said.

“They depart in a bus from McKenzie, they pick up Georgiana students and then they arrive here during first period to participate for two hours, so they get two hours’ credit for JROTC.  So it really enriches their experience. 

“They’re able to take electives that they are interested in exploring for a future career.  The McKenzie cadets, for example, are all very interested in exploring the military as a potential career, so they’re in the right place.  When we have recruiters from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, they’re very attentive because they’re clearly thinking about the military as a career, though that is not a requirement.  JROTC is also a good fit for those interested in public service or public administration.”

In years past, Greenville’s own cadets have lent a hand during Georgiana and McKenzie’s annual Christmas parades and similar events.

Now, being spread thin won’t be much of an issue for the ever-growing battalion.  What’s more, the newly-enlisted McKenzie cadets will have their first opportunity to excel on Friday while leading the McKenzie homecoming parade that starts at 2 p.m., and again when presenting the colors during the playing of the national anthem a little bit before 7 p.m.

“We do try to mutually support among our communities because I try to emphasize that we’re all one battalion,” Hester added. “We’re taking a group of more than 30 cadets to McKenzie to join with the six McKenzie cadets so that we’ll have a good sized element to support them.”

The inclusion of additional cadets is an idea that has already borne fruit, as evidenced by last year’s JROTC awards banquet.

“One of the winners of our Knights of Columbus award was a Georgiana cadet,” Hester said.

“She’s a fine young cadet named Alexis McDowell.  Alexis is, in fact, our deputy executive officer in the rank of major.  She’s our No. 3 ranking cadet in all of 140 cadets in our JROTC program. She’s an excellent candidate for an ROTC scholarship.”

Though still in its infancy, Hester believes the countywide efforts of the JROTC program can help unite the county in a number of ways.

“We want all parts of the county to feel that they’re a part, especially in public education,” Hester said.

“We’re taking cadets from here and marching in the McKenzie parade, and we’re intending to march in all three Christmas parades.  So I think for sure that the fact that we’re one battalion now, which now includes cadets from all three public schools, can be a unifying force for the county.”