AFJROTC offers students leadership, team-building opportunities

A number of programs, classes and organizations within Cypress-Fairbanks ISD offer students the ability to assume leadership roles, work together in a team setting and learn discipline and structure. One that represents more than 1,100 high school students at all four grade levels is Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

Hosted on eight of CFISD’s 12 comprehensive high school campuses – students from non-hosting schools combine with other units – JROTC is a federally-sponsored program by the United State Armed Forces and dates its origin to the National Defense Act of 1916. At its core, the program is designed to help develop students learn and understand good citizenship, leadership, respect, community service, the importance of physical fitness and self-reliance.

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Cy-Fair High School Air Force Junior ROTC students participate in the Military Drill Competition on Feb. 3 at the Berry Center. 

There is no military obligation and the program isn’t designed to steer participants toward military service, though the influence includes curriculum (aerospace science and leadership in CFISD) taught by retired military personnel and cadets required to wear a uniform. The focus is instead on building those soft skills to help students thrive in any career path they choose.

“The students run the program,” said Dr. Sharon Hogue, CFISD AFJROTC and career and technical education coordinator. “It’s a cadet-run program, and so the instructors build up the cadets and the cadets take charge.”

Within each JROTC unit are a number of activities and teams in which a cadet can participate, including the drill team and color guard. Units participate in competitions, team-building activities and community service. Earning a letterman jacket is also possible in JROTC.

“I really love ROTC because of everything it has to offer after school,” said Sayra Rodriguez, a Jersey Village High School senior and the school’s AFJROTC corps commander. “There are so many teams that you can join and it actually gave me my first leadership position.”

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Cypress Falls High School AFJROTC cadets lead the “Pass in Review” at Pridgeon Stadium on April 21. 

CFISD and its AFJROTC units hosted a Military Drill Competition on Feb. 3 at the Berry Center, in which 25 units from across CFISD and the Houston area participated. Langham Creek High School placed third overall, as cadets competed in events that included academic presentations and testing, inspections, exhibition drill and physical training. Units were evaluated by military training instructors from Lackland Air Force’s 737th Training Group, University of Houston ROTC cadets and Texas A&M University cadets.

The district also hosted its 16th Annual AFJROTC Pass in Review, which was held April 21 at Pridgeon Stadium. A military tradition designed to display the readiness of troops and their units to a newly assigned commander, the Pass in Review showcased the cadets’ discipline and uniformity to a crowd that included family, friends, Board of Trustees members and campus and district administrators.

Cypress Falls High School AFJROTC Unit TX-20003 served as the host school and senior Josephine Ngo served as the commander of troops.

“This event is steeped in military tradition dating back to the American Revolution at Valley Forge,” Hogue said. “These cadets carry on the proud tradition of excellence with their precision maneuvers, as evidence of the hard work, discipline and dedication of the instructors and cadets.”

Though a four-year program, JROTC has the ability to help students build long-lasting relationships beyond high school.

“We are a big family, so all the connections with people are really strong,” said Fatima Medina, a Cy-Fair High School junior and cadet captain. “You find friendships and connections and bonds that can’t be broken. It’s really a special thing.”

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