Nov. 3, 2017

Cadets in IPS’ Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) aren’t in the military, but as Veterans Day approaches, their commitment to duty and service is impressive.

Arlington JROTC

On Friday, Nov. 10, Arlington High School JROTC cadets will participate in “Operation Flag,” a community service event in which students complete a long-standing tradition of placing U.S. flags on the graves of every veteran at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Cadets will arrive at 6 a.m. at the cemetery to place more than 4,000 flags in about four hours.

“Operation Flag is one of my favorite service activities,” said Christopher W., a senior participating in the event for the fourth time. “I have learned we should honor those who served and passed away for our country. Before JROTC, I knew my brother was a veteran, but I didn’t really care because I didn’t know what it meant. Now that I understand the values of a veteran and what they go through, I bring him a flag every Veterans Day and thank him for his service.”

The event also holds special meaning for first-time participant, sophomore Carla M.

“Placing the flags at Crown Hill is something I want to experience, even though I think it will be emotional for me,” she said. “My auntie died in military combat, and I understand her sacrifice now.”

JROTC at IPS has a long tradition of service dating back to 1919, when a program was first established at Arsenal Technical High School. It was founded as part of the National Defense Act of 1916, and there are currently JROTC programs at Arlington High School, Arsenal Technical High School, Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, Northwest Community High School, and George Washington Community High School.

Ronald Crane is the senior Army instructor at Arlington, where he is responsible for JROTC instruction and operations, and for packaging the program into a challenging, rewarding and inspiring curriculum. 

“This is my first year as a JROTC instructor,” said Crane. “I became eligible for the program in May when I retired from 28 years of active-duty service in the U.S. Army.  I previously taught high school social studies and special education, and JROTC was immediately appealing to me as it utilizes both my teaching and military experience.” 

Crane wants all prospective JROTC cadets and their parents to understand three things:

  1. JROTC is not just for students who want to enlist in the military

In fact, there is no military obligation. “Only about five percent of our course content involves the military,” said Crane. “The JROTC mission is to ‘Motivate young people to be better citizens.’”

  1. JROTC is a big deal — for students and the community

“Schools compete to have JROTC programs because they are highly successful, structured and accredited programs that provide countless hours of community enhancement,” said Crane. “For example, when people see a U.S. and state flag presented at a sporting event, it is typically a JROTC color guard team making that presentation. Those cadets train, prepare their uniforms, volunteer and manage their school work and family responsibilities in addition to their JROTC activities.” 

At any given time, there are 200 high schools on a wait list for JROTC programs.

  1. Cadets develop lifelong leadership and decision-making skills

IPS cadets take JROTC as an elective class each day.

“All academics play a vital role in the development of our students,” said Crane. “Students who participate in JROTC excel in school and life. They learn skills such as leadership, self-confidence, and discipline — qualities that are necessary to thrive in college or in any career.”

Students join JROTC for a variety of reasons.

“I became interested in the program because I knew I needed community service to be able to apply for scholarships,” said Tamara W. “But JROTC has really helped me learn to communicate with people and be more of a team player.”

Cadet Battalion Commander T’Audra M. recently put those skills to use when she interviewed for the Eli Lilly Endowment Scholarship and MG Robert G. Moorhead Scholarship.

“JROTC changed my life,” said T’Audra. “This program has taught me how to be part of a team, to serve others, to be a leader and to communicate well.”

JROTC programs at each of the participating IPS high schools frequently work together. “We are fortunate to have the District Level Director of Army Instruction Office to orchestrate these programs,” said Crane. “Recently, Arlington and Crispus Attucks participated in the Circle City Classic Parade, and on Saturday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), all of our schools will compete in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Indianapolis. Friendly, spirited competition builds comradery among our schools.”

2017 Veterans Day Parade

The Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis will host a Veterans Day Service at 11 a.m. at the Indiana War Memorial, followed by the parade at 12 p.m. The Veterans Day Parade begins at the intersection of Michigan and Pennsylvania streets and ends on Meridian and North streets. This year, the parade features more than 85 entries.