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JROTC: Training for Life
JROTC: Training for Life
Posted on 04/15/2019
Students prepare for college and careers in North Buncombe High School's Navy JROTC program.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept. (Photos provided by North Buncombe High School.)

When a JROTC color guard steps forward with our nation’s flag, hats come off and citizens prepare to remember our veterans, national heritage, and all that freedom has provided. It’s an outward symbol of what our nation has accomplished and will become. It is an element we’ve come to expect — and respect — at sporting events, parades, and holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.

NJROTC cadets stand together at North Buncombe High School.At six BCS high schools, students are rightfully proud to serve with their school’s color guard, which is one of the more visible and outward activities of a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit. But also significant is the reward JROTC students receive inwardly for taking on the daily challenge to grow in character, leadership, and citizenship — traits that will no doubt serve them well in their educational and vocational aspirations.

“We are a citizenship development program,” said Captain James "Jimmer" Sullivan, Navy veteran, Senior Naval Science Instructor, and Teacher of the Year at North Buncombe High School.

“If they have learned to study effectively with structure and self-discipline, stand up for what they believe in, and search for the right choice when it is a hard choice, then I’ve accomplished what I need to accomplish,” Sullivan said of his students. “Because hard choices are coming in life, whether we want them or not.”

Sullivan wants his students to be ready for whatever the future holds and works alongside Naval Science Instructor and Command Master Chief Edward Moreno to teach Navy JROTC (NJROTC) electives at North Buncombe. In class, students learn about topics such as first aid, fitness, nutrition, maritime history, ship building, naval skills, and basics of life at sea. Principles of leadership are taught to all grade levels, and students are challenged to analyze some of history’s more difficult leadership decisions.

NJROTC compete with area JROTC programs.Outside of the classroom, students have myriad options for personal growth and teamwork through drill competitions, color guard, an air rifle team, and athletic or academic competitions with cadets from neighboring states. Students build life-long friendships, self-confidence, and grit that can only be earned through hard work. In the summer months, students are invited to participate in a summer sailing camp near Charleston. There’s also plenty of laughter and levity; for example, Moreno described a recent drill training that involved a large inflatable dinosaur! For students, it all adds up to a rewarding and fun high school experience that provides value for life.

“When I look in the mirror, I am proud of who I am today and am ready for the challenges ahead of me,” wrote North Buncombe senior Ethan Chandler in an essay about his NJROTC experience. “To be our best, we must exemplify moral character, be disciplined, and never compromise our integrity.”

JROTC students are also challenged and coached to pursue their academic goals. In class, students write and refine essays for use in university and scholarship applications. Chandler recently earned a NJROTC scholarship to The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, worth about $150,000. Moreno proudly described Chandler as humble, yet driven, and “the type of student who makes those around him better.” Chandler is also awaiting a decision about admittance to the Naval Academy.

Certainly, students who aim to pursue service to their country are well-positioned with instructors like Moreno and Sullivan, but when asked if they intended to recruit students through NJROTC, Sullivan laughed. He explained that while the Navy helps provide supplies for the school and funding for competition fees each year, recruitment is strictly forbidden.

“My success isn’t in the number of students who join the military, because if it is, then I’m a complete failure,” Sullivan said with a smile. “If that’s their goal, I’ll help them. But most of my students have no desire to go into the military and I’m happy for them. I’m happy to do whatever I can to help them prepare for graduation, scholarships, college, and civilian life.”

Chandler concluded his essay with words that are displayed on the NJROTC classroom door: "NJROTC: Preparing students for life… Wherever they may LEAD!"

NJROTC: A Pathway to Success
An essay on NJROTC at North Buncombe High School by student Ethan Chandler

Ethan Chandler stands at attention at North Buncombe High football game.NJROTC is a pathway to success! I participated North Buncombe NJROTC all four years of high school. I experienced growth and academic achievement from being held accountable by my instructors/mentors. The NJROTC program benefits any student by providing a structured, yet inclusive and safe, learning environment.

We develop cadet leadership by partnering with our Naval Science Instructors. They are not just our teachers, they are our mentors and role models who lead by example. Relationships are formed. Our goal is to accomplish the mission and be a cadet-managed unit. Our “Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment” drives our behavior, enhances our convictions and heightens our responsibility. I am grateful for the last four years and learned a great deal about myself. I am confident of what it takes to be a leader, and more importantly, a person of high moral character and integrity.

North Buncombe NJROTC helps students help themselves in shaping their lives and forging their future success. When I look in the mirror, I am proud of who I am today and am ready for the challenges ahead of me. I love NJROTC and cherish my time with my fellow cadets and instructors.

The NJROTC program prepares and instills values in young men and women. We are reminded of the importance and duty of citizenship. To be our best, we must exemplify moral character, be disciplined, and never compromise our integrity. These attributes and traits are priceless today, always have been, and will be in the future.

I personally feel NBHS NJROTC will benefit any student who participates, puts forth the effort, and is open to critical feedback. We have a slogan on the door, “NJROTC: Preparing students for life… Wherever they may LEAD!” I know this to be true!

Learn more about NJROTC at North Buncombe High School.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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