Tulsa students and Jr ROTC

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Some of America's soldiers made it to the front lines of the war on terrorism with a start in high school 'Junior' ROTC.

It's a training ground for leadership - and for some, the first step towards a military career. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says it's not every day that a high school class stands at attention for roll call - but this is no ordinary class. In the Junior ROTC, students learn respect for themselves and the flag. They practice rifle drills so they can serve as color guards for public events. For some, this is the closest they'll come to the military. Andy Farragher, Central High Jr ROTC: "I didn't really get in here to go into the Navy or the Army or any of them, but I just got in here to learn about the country and how the armed forces work."

The civics and leadership based curriculum is provided by the Navy for this Jr ROTC platoon - but other Tulsa schools have Army and Air Force units. They're not obligated to join the armed services after graduation and only about one in four will. Jarrod Thrasher, Central High Jr ROTC: "My mom has always supported my decision to go into the military and she stands behind me no matter what, most of my family understands that I want to do that and they're behind me as well." As the cadets learn about military life, they now realize that war is part of it. Anthony Scott, Central High Jr ROTC: "That makes me a little more scared, Knowing that right after basic training I might be taken right in." But for most, that decision is far away.

The platoon commander says the war has mostly served to foster a sense of patriotism. Lt Clayton Ostergren, US Navy (Ret): "The students, they have a new awareness of community and patriotism.” When these cadets leave high school, they'll be on the fast track to college scholarships or an advanced career in the military. They could also be on the fast track to a real battlefield.

Tulsa’s Central High has 112 students in the Junior ROTC program.