Salem High’s ROTC Program Inspires Students To Better The World Around Them
by Madison Borden
Salem High School offers many fantastic clubs and activities for students to take part in, one of which is the ROTC program. ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is very well-known throughout the school, with participants ranging from grades 9-12. The group contains around one hundred cadets spread out between 5-6 classes. I wanted to gain a better understanding of what this program was about, so I ventured down to talk with the instructors as well as the cadets.
First Sergeant (1SG) David Grinstead was happy to express his love for the program and the students that take part in it. He was also able to inform me about some of the unique opportunities students receive as they advance through the program. If you are a part of ROTC for three years and want to pursue a career in the military after high school, you could potentially be 9 months ahead of everyone else. Additionally, if you are interested in going to college after high school, there are various scholarships available for cadets that take part in the program.
But, above all else, 1SG Grinstead wants each of his cadets to gain the understanding of what it means to become a leader. He doesn’t want the skills to just be applied to the curriculum. Instead, he would like to see all cadets push themselves to go further and serve the community with the experience they have. This includes opening the door for someone or even referring to people as “sir” or “miss”. It goes beyond service, it is a level of respect that should be shown at all times. Although they want the cadets to enjoy what they do, 1st SGT also mentioned that they like to keep it as “military as possible”, allowing the cadets to practice for what it would be like as a career.
Outside of the classroom, ROTC partakes in many competitions. On October 22, 2016, Salem High ROTC hosted their very own Raiders competition. With two teams of their own and plenty of other schools from around the area, they competed in 5 events including physical fitness, rope bridge, land navigation, first aid, and a 5k. The teams did an incredible job, earning scores high enough to win them 11 out of the 12 trophies presented. The cadets also participated in a three day excursion to Georgia on November 3, earning 4th place medals in the PT category at the All Service Raiders Challenge Championship.
From the minute I walked into the ROTC room until I left, I received a very intense feeling of wholeness and community. The respect that the cadets showed for one another and to their instructors was beyond anything that I had ever seen. Before I left, I was able to sit down with a few cadets and ask them about the program. Each of them had been a part of ROTC for different amounts of time, but they all had very similar stories to tell. All agreed that when you sign up for ROTC, you become, more or less, a family. They all support each other through the difficulties of certain obstacles, have fun together, and even go to special places like Washington DC. One girl even went on to say that “despite [our] differences, we are not going to give up on each other.”
In honor of Veteran’s Day on November 11, I asked 1SG Grinstead what we should keep in mind as we recognize the holiday. He would like to remind everyone to never forget about the sacrifices service members have made and the hardships that come with fighting for our country. We send our fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers off to fight for our freedom with hope in our hearts that they will come home safe and sound. Sadly, there are some families that are unable to rejoice with their loved ones. Last Friday, we sure to acknowledge the men and women that have served, the families that are still waiting for their loved ones to come home, those that have been injured, and the many that have been lost. This day of solemn remembrance means a lot to those around you, present and in spirit.