GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) units at 584 high schools around the world have mustered more than 86,000 student cadets for the start of another year of citizenship development, as high schools around the U.S. begin another school year.
The NJROTC program is divided into 11 areas across the United States, Italy, Spain, Japan and Guam.
The 11 areas are numbered three through 13. Area 13 covers the most ground starting in Papillion, Neb., and stretches across the Pacific Ocean to Yokosuka, Japan. There are 13 Northwest states in Area 13 including Hawaii, as well as Guam and Japan, totaling 6,086 miles.
Texas and Florida are their own areas with 68 units in Florida (Area 7) and 55 units in Texas (Area 10). Area 6 in North Carolina and South Carolina high schools host 67 units, while Area 11 in Southern California and Arizona have more than 50 units. Other areas encompass the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains States and Southwest.
"The NJROTC program is a citizenship and leadership development program with an impact that reaches beyond the NJROTC classroom and into the communities where NJROTC units are located," said Mark Watson, deputy program director and operations officer of the NJROTC program.
NJROTC is a citizenship program that seeks to instill participating high school students with the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. NJROTC strives to build a strong foundation of citizenship in America's future leaders.
"The last four years have been a privilege to be part of this unit and have really helped me become a leader," said Cadet Capt. Katie Saporita, 17, the senior commander of Southold (N.Y.) High School Area 4 unit on Staten Island. "Hopefully the knowledge and discipline I have acquired will help show the underclassmen this school year what it means to work as a team and to contribute to that team,"
Each year NJROTC enrollment increases by approximately 2,500 students. Schools with larger enrollments are authorized to form into a regiment; smaller programs are organized into a battalion. There are presently five all-NJROTC academies in the country.
"I'm very excited for this upcoming year in our unit. This will be our first year as a regiment, whereas previously we had a battalion," said Cadet Captain Hannah O' Brien, 17, a senior and regimental commander at Zion-Benton (Ill.) High School. "This means that we are undergoing some very important changes and it will require a higher level of dedication and support, but I have complete confidence in our regimental staff, and I believe that it will be one of, if not the best, years for our unit."
The program is currently overseen by Commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), Rear Adm. David F. Steindl, headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill.
"Each year I have been more impressed with the NJROTC program and the quality of the cadets it produces," said Steindl. "When I visit units across the country, I am very proud of the dedication I see in each cadet and the commitment they have for their units, communities and nation."
Each area is overseen by an area manager, a retired naval officer, who coordinates with each of the units within the area throughout the year.
"This year, as every year, I expect units to set realistic goals that fit their unit," said retired Cmdr. Joe Hankins, Area 4 manager in the Northeast.. "Each unit is unique and therefore, I like to see goals that are specific in nature to their unit and community. I look for the unit staff, with the assistance of the instructors, to develop a plan of action for each goal, ensure the entire unit is aware of the goals and then track and report the progress of each. However, there are some common goals I expect all units to emphasize in some way and these include academics, service to school and community, and team work."
In Texas, at Spring Hill High School, the cadet commanding and executive officers are looking to add to their record of community service, remaining an integral part of Area 10 that completed more than 130,000 hours of community service and more than 55,000 hours of school support activities last year.
"We want to continue our support and service to our community and school but at the same time increase our competitive edge in academics, athletics and drill competitions," said Cadet Capt. Lindsey Moliner, 17, the senior commanding officer of the Spring unit.
Along with community and school volunteering and projects, the cadets participate in regional and national academic, physical fitness, and military drill competitions.
"We want to set the bar higher in everything we attempt and take on, whether it's academic, physical, drill or serving the community," said Cadet Cmdr.. Dimitri Baldwin, 17, the Spring unit senior executive officer.
The Flanagan High School unit in Pembroke Pines, Fla., is the current National Academic, Athletic and Drill Champion.
"We are looking at raising the bar and keeping our standards at an even higher level," said Cadet Lt. Cmdr. Andy Acosta, 17, a senior and commanding officer of the Flanagan unit in Area 7. "We want to become the state champions and to repeat as the national champion."
The NJROTC program The NJROTC program was established by Public Law in 1964 and may be found in Title 10, U.S. Code, Chapter 102. The program is conducted at accredited secondary schools throughout the nation, by instructors who are retired Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel.
The NJROTC curriculum emphasizes citizenship and leadership development, as well as maritime heritage, the significance of sea power, and naval topics such as the fundamentals of naval operations, seamanship, navigation and meteorology. Classroom instruction is augmented throughout the year by community service activities, drill competition, field meets, flights, visits to naval activities, marksmanship training, and other military training.