The Arlington High School AFJROTC was on the brink of cancellation until students, parents and teachers helped raise enrollment in the program.
The Air Force Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps is a program which teaches students basic military leadership skills along with other topics like the science of flight.
The local Arlington High School program had been on probation for the last few years because of low enrollment.
“When we got word that 77 students wasn’t going to be enough, by the law and according to Air Force standards, we were really disappointed,” said Arlington High School principal Duane Fish.
The program is federally funded and has many schools on the wait list, so only schools which keep enough students involved receive funding.
School district officials petitioned for another year to get their enrollment up though, and were given a deadline of Oct. 2018.
After a year of recruiting students and parents raised enrollment to 103, just a few above what they needed.
The school’s program received an inspection on Oct. 29 and recently received word that they were approved.
“We knew we were going to take some write-ups … but when all was said and done with all the different things they score, we were marked ‘exceed standards’ which is the highest grade you can receive,” said Mike Blue, instructor for the program.
Students were excited to finally leave probation.
“It feels like we finally got there to the other side. We wanted to get this done to keep the program around because we love it,” said junior Emma Lampert, a senior airman with the program.
“For me, it was a really great accomplishment. I remember in our freshman year we didn’t have nearly enough, around 60 or 70” said junior Alex Seuthprachack, chief master sergeant with the program.
Blue said that it was good to “get the monkey of our back” that had been hanging around for the last year, but he is encouraging students not to slack off now.
The program will lose graduating seniors and other students who leave for various reasons.
“So we got to keep it going and keep the recruiting efforts going,” he said.
Students said that they’re glad the program will continue because they like the community that is involved.
“It’s a family. It’s a dysfunctional family, but a family,” said Eleanor Kikuchi, staff sergeant with the program.
“Some say this is the brothers and sisters that they don’t have,” said Blue.
It also provides a niche for students who don’t fit in more traditional schooling models.
“It’s unique in a way in that it engages students a little bit differently than most kids are engaged in high school,” said Fish.
“It’s a nice difference from regular classes. It’s strict, but not as strict as people imagine it as,” said Kikuchi.
Officials were glad that the program will now be able to continue.
“I’m just excited that we’ll have the program for the foreseeable future,” said Fish.
AHS AFJROTC program gets out of danger of cancellation