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JROTC: Citizenship Development Strong During COVID-19
JROTC: Citizenship Development Strong During COVID-19
Posted on 05/19/2020
Even during the pandemic, JROTC programs challenge students to build character, self-discipline, and life skills while serving their communities.Photos were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and were provided courtesy of T.C. Roberson High School AFJROTC.

By: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

Push-ups, fighter jets, flying cars, and babysitting! These are just some of the ways that T.C. Roberson High Air Force JROTC cadets have engaged with learning and sharpened their minds since the pandemic affected Buncombe County in March.

At six BCS high schools, JROTC programs challenge students to build character, self-discipline, and life skills while serving their communities. Even when COVID-19 forced learning online, this mission to develop selfless citizens remained strong.

T.C. Roberson High AFJROTC students stand together during the Feb. 15, 2020, JROTC military ball.Instructors like Roberson's Col. Tom Bell quickly found new ways to challenge students to grow. In addition to virtual academic work and physical training goals, Bell introduced a number of creative activities and experiences to challenge cadets. His students participated in a virtual field trip to explore an F-35 Fighter Jet housed at a Utah Air Force base. They also attended the virtual launch of the Air Force’s new Agility Prime program, which seeks to accelerate the commercial market toward flying vehicles.

"These experiences gave our cadets a real-time glimpse into current operations of the Air Force and what the future may hold for all of us," Bell said.

Even while they “Stay Home, Stay Safe,” Bell has been encouraged by the ways students have improved themselves and lived out their "Service Before Self” mantra. Cadets have read new books, learned new instruments, and looked for opportunities to cheerfully meet others’ needs.

“My sister started falling behind with her virtual work,” one student reported to the class. “I decided to spend my weekend helping her get caught up instead of having lazy days for myself. Also, my mom hasn’t been feeling well because of her Crohn's disease, so I have been helping out with watching my five-year-old sister and doing extra chores on top of my school work.”

Another student described the challenges of caring for three younger siblings so their parents could work - all while maintaining near-perfect grades and working in the evenings.

“I have a 99 in science, a 100 in JROTC, and a 100 in Spanish, even through these tough times and while babysitting everyday,” the student said.

"In JROTC, we talk a lot about the need to adapt and overcome when presented with life's challenges," explained Bell. "I am very proud of our cadets in adjusting to this new normal and continuing to embrace the Air Force core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do in all their daily activities."

Ready for a new experience? Take a virtual tour of an F-35 Fighter Jet!

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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