WESTFALL TWP. - A four-year program that focuses on citizenship, character development and more, may come to the Delaware Valley School District with time.    

At the district’s January board of education meeting, Andrew Wall, a retired Navy commander and the senior Naval science instructor at Middletown High School in New York, introduced the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) as a program that focuses on those and other traits. Through (NJROTC), he said students learn about the “traditional military virtues” that include, but aren’t limited to: discipline, self-confidence and basic life skills as an introduction to the service. There are no costs or obligations for students who join; instead, it’s about trying to “capture the benefits of the military lifestyle.”

Would need rifle team

For some time, Board President Jack O’Leary said the district has tried to bring the (NJROTC) program to the district, but to no avail. As part of the program, the district would need a rifle team and a gun safety course that would be “intertwined with each other.”  

Currently, DV elementary students learn about gun safety, but a hunter safety course is something the district is looking into as an “optional course” to be held after school, DV Superintendent Dr. John Bell said in an email.

Because the North Pocono School District is the only school in DV’s sports district with a rifle team, DV officials are communicating with them to learn what is needed to start a team.    

Since parents have expressed concern about a rifle team on DV’s campus, and O’Leary said there is no place on the grounds for a range, the Matamoras Rod and Gun Club has offered use of their facilities and to share their knowledge. Club President Keith Raser said he and other members support the team and are willing to “help you anyway we can.” With members whom are National Rifle Association instructors and others certified to work with the rifle team, the “Matamoras Rod and Gun Club is willing to help.”  

Although a winter sport, the Matamoras Rod and Gun Club has an indoor range. Since the team would be a school sport, Bell said the district would cover costs, but donations would be accepted.

“Wonderful addition”

Familiar with (NJROTC) from his time at Minisink Valley, Bell said the program would be a “wonderful addition” to the high school, so the idea was added to the district’s five-year strategic plan four years ago.  

Wall said the (NJROTC) and the National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) are “identical in purpose” but differ regarding funding. DV doesn’t have to participate in the (NDCC), but if involved, Wall said that is a strength for the district as they work towards joining the (NJROTC). Thus far, the district has already been waiting more than three years to be accepted. But, Bell said via email that the district is looking to other districts that moved from the (NDCC) to the (NJROTC) to learn more.    

When cadets graduate from the four-year program, Wall said he wants them to be “effective leaders” after enhancing their social skills. When the students finish, Wall has found that they have grown more than he believes they would have, if they weren’t involved in the (NJROTC).  

Although (NJROTC) is a four-year program, not every student participates for four years and they don’t have to. Wall said participating for those years, however, offers the student a “goal to steer by.” Students tend to join for various reasons, some friends, others family or just the “idea of the uniform.”

No cost to student
A self-funded program, Wall said there is no cost to the students, but collections and donations do happen. The cost for the (NJROTC) program at DV would be about $150,000.

Cadets are required to wear a uniform one day each week and there is a formal uniform inspection. Additionally, there is a class five days a week, worth one academic credit a year that Wall called “challenging.” It’s generally an elective credit.    

A “benefit” to participating, Wall said is that if a cadet is involved two years they can enlist in the Navy as an E2, or if involved for three years they can enlist as an E3, allowing the individual to be promoted to petty officer third class faster.

As for a ratio of boys to girls, usually Wall said its 60 percent male and 40 percent female, but it is not uncommon to be the exact opposite. He noted though, that females tend to be “more serious.” As a parent, O’Leary said he likes that the rifle team offers a level playing field for boys and girls.     

Wall said the community’s commitment to a (NJROTC) program at DV could be a benefit for the district, since the Navy decides which districts participate and there is a long waiting list.    

Since being accepted into the (NJROTC) isn’t an easy process, O’Leary said the district will learn what it can, but the public’s shared knowledge will be a benefit.

Needs more research

At this time, Bell said research is needed and it is unknown where the district stands as far as being accepted; therefore, a time frame hasn’t been determined. O’Leary said if the district was able, it would be a part of the (NJROTC) tomorrow.

A parent of a DV graduate, Gregg Mireau’s son is currently enlisted in the Navy and to offer knowledge and support to bringing the (NJROTC) to the district, he created a Facebook page, “Navy Proud of Northeastern Pennsylvania.” 

To learn more about the (NJROTC) visit http://www.njrotc.navy.mil/ or there is a video on YouTube “Faces of NJROTC.”