If you’ve been greeted by friendly, helpful and courteous Indianapolis Public Schools students at a districtwide event, chances are you met members of the John Marshall Community High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). These students dedicate countless hours each year to serving our community in many ways.
The John Marshall JROTC is arguably the most active pre-military group in IPS, and among its members are four dedicated cadets who have devoted more hours to community service than any others: Cadet Major Rinique Earls, Cadet Captain Flossie Wallace, Cadet Second Lieutenant T’Audra McGhee and Cadet Commander Sergeant Major Sean Paxton. These Cadets have completed several important community service projects with poise and pride.
“People tend to get the wrong idea about our school,” said Cadet Captain Wallace, “and we don’t want the bad reputation staying out there.”
One of the many community initiatives the John Marshall JROTC Cadets have participated in throughout the year is the school’s food pantry, where Cadets stock shelves and prepare hundreds of boxes and bags of food to assist families on Indianapolis’s East side. Other projects include placing 5,500 flags at all of Crown Hill Cemetery’s military graves each Veteran’s Day, holding a cookout for the formerly homeless veterans at the East side’s Lincoln Apartments and participating in the annual Far Eastside Community Day.
These dedicated and disciplined students also participate in drills throughout IPS and across the city. Several of the Cadets noted seeing the faces of younger students as they present the colors is a highlight of their travels across Indianapolis. But being a JROTC member is more than just the events; there’s a deeper connection that keeps students engaged in this supportive environment.
“JROTC has bettered me as a person,” said Wallace. “Without JROTC, I honestly don’t know if I’d still be here today. This group is like a second home to me; whenever things are tough at home, I know I can always come here.”
“JROTC has had a dramatic impact on me,” added Cadet Major Earls. “Before JROTC, I usually had my head stuck in a book and wouldn’t talk much to people. But this experience has opened me up to speaking in front of others and taking part in bigger things.”
All of the four cadets plan to continue their experience with the military after graduation –whether it’s with the National Guard, Reserves or Active Duty. And they all attribute their self-discipline and success to one person – First Sergeant Richard Woodcox. This seasoned Army veteran dedicates his time to mentoring our young Cadets, and his commitment to their future really shines through our students.
“When I first started, I was worried I wasn’t going to like him,” said Wallace. “But now he’s like a father figure to me – he pushes me. You know the Army people don’t always show emotions up front, but you can tell there’s love there.”
The John Marshall JROTC placed second in the first drill meet of the year hosted at their own school; now they’re preparing for the final drill meet of the school year next month. And their community service initiatives are far from finished this year; the fourth and final blood drive sponsored by the JROTC takes place at John Marshall on May 25. We are so proud of these hard working and service-minded Cadets; we know they will have continued success as they work toward their post-graduation goals, and we look forward to the continued efforts of John Marshall’s JROTC!