Demopolis JROTC rated tops in nation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Last Friday, the Demopolis High School JROTC program proved to be a cut above the rest during their Formal Cadet Inspection by receiving the highest rating presented to any program in the nation.

During this year’s evaluation, the unit scored 576 out of a total 600 points to receive the rating of Honor Unit with Distinction.

During the evaluation, every aspect of the unit was inspected, said Cadet Battallion Commander Norbert Perret.

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“They inspected us for everything JROTC does,” Perret said. “They graded us on how well we do in each area and inspected everyone in drill team and color guard. They looked at uniforms, how well they marched and things like that.”

Perret, who has been with the program for four years, said the unit took great pride in their performance.

“We were really proud of our score,” Perret said. “We work really hard and we were proud of that.”

Members of the DHS JROTC work spend several afternoons after school training for evaluations on their own. Because of this, Battallion Executive Officer Stephen Cochran said they were overjoyed when they heard their score.

“We really worked hard for this,” Cochran said. “I am in color guard and we did really well. We were able to get a score of 32 out of a possible 35 and it was because of hard work.”

The accomplishment was even greater for Sgt. Mike Black, who oversees the program, because they also have the increasing participation.

“We have 95 cadets in our program and 89 of those were present and in uniform for the inspection,” Black said. “Our overall goal for this school year was to improve the rating of the unit and to follow the mission of the JROTC, which is to motivate young people to become better citizens.”

Because of the units hard work, Black said he expected a high score. However, he was pleasantly surprised when the numbers came in.

“I figured we would do pretty well, but I was very pleased we did as well as we did,” Black said. “Everything we did seemed to turn out well.”

The impact of JROTC goes far beyond competition. Several members are training for a possible career. Perret, who plans to enlist in the Marines after graduation in May, said he is gaining valuable experience.

“It is helping me with rank promotions in the military,” Perret said. “I plan to join the Marines and this has really helped me a lot.”

Joining JROTC to prepare for a career is not uncommon for the Demopolis unit, Black said.

“We have several students going into the military and the way things are now, that is a good sign,” Black said. “A lot of parents don’t want their children going into the military, but someone has got to do it.”

During the year, the unit performs at ceremonies, football games and various other functions. Cochran said their performances and experience make participation worthwhile.

“This has been a great program and I have really enjoyed,” Cochran said. “It has been a great experience.”

The program, Black said, hopes to keep the momentum and interest they have generated next year as well.

“I hope the cadets continue the good work and continued pride for the program,” Cochran said. “That’s what makes it great.”