J.R.O.T.C.: Training Citizens of Tomorrow
December 10, 2018
(HHS) - Hoover High School’s Air Force JROTC - Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps [AFJROTC] - has only been in existence for a few months. Even so, it has already earned the highest rating possible for its first of several required inspections from the United States Air Force - a coveted “Exceeds Standards.” This news came shortly into the 2018-2019 school year (October) and was very well-received by program director, Colonel Chris Moulton, who came from Illinois to jumpstart Hoover High School’s AFJROTC.
“It’s a citizenship program designed to build citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and their community. What we do is use a military forum or foundation to build up students to be an all-around contributing member of the community.”
Building citizens for tomorrow stands chief among AFJROTC objectives. Course leaders teach cadets (students) about leadership, respect, world history, and military concepts. A pipeline to armed services recruitment, however, it is not.
“There’s a big misperception that this program is all about recruiting and that’s not correct,” Moulton said. “I do have an obligation to advise students as necessary and we do encourage them to look at the military or even JROTC options they may have should they choose to go to college.”
Master Seargent (MSgt) Grant Gibson helps manage the program alongside Moulton. Together, they teach 80 cadets over the course of a school day - freshmen to seniors. Curriculum centers around a number of concepts and fields of study - including aerospace science. Ultimately, Hoover High School’s AFJROTC will be cadet-led. At Hoover High School, just like his prior post in Illinois, Moulton has found great support for J.R.O.T.C.
“When I interviewed with (principal Don Hulin) I gave him my vision of what I thought a program should look like. I said, ‘...if this is what you think you want to look for - then we should talk further.’ Fortunately, our visions matched pretty closely,” Moulton said.
Hulin has wanted this program and lobbied for it for nearly a decade. He collaborated with college and career counselor Cindy Bond. Together, they discovered multiple implementation barriers including federal budget constraints and a cap on the number of units allotted annually across the nation. Still, school leaders persisted and final approval was granted in 2017.
“This has been a passion project for over eight years,” Hulin said. “My hope is that the program will grow to be one of the largest and most decorated in the nation. I think that is a real possibility.”
“Before school began in August of this school year, the Colonel reached out to students and invited them to train in order to present the colors at our first football game. This was a priority set out by Mr. Hulin and it was incredible. We knew, with the right faculty and leadership, the program would flourish. In their first semester they are already making great strides,” Bond said.