East cadets proudly progress into adulthood


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By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

One LARGE 94-student military family proudly marches the halls at East High every day.

Why?

“We are learning how to grow up from teenagers into adults,” said Junior Reserve Officer Traning Corps cadet James Gilmer.

Retired Army Master Sgt. Douglas Moon, East JROTC instructor, said the JROTC course at East strives to motivate young people to be better citizens.

Cadet Tobias Hayes echoed Moon’s sentiment.

“This program is designed to make you a better citizen and shows you everything about being a citizen of the United States,” Tobias said.

Students who partake in the JROTC had a choice between the JROTC program and gym class for electives.

Becoming a productive citizen after high school is one main focus of the program.

“We make sure they have a plan for once they graduate high school,” said retired Army Maj. Brian Dugan, East JROTC senior instructor. “If they’re not prepared, we try to get them to that point so they can have a successful life.”

Both Moon and Dugan agree that their favorite aspect of teaching JROTC classes is seeing students progress.

“Sometimes we see kids grow from nothing to everything,” Moon said. “We turn some at-risk kids around to excel at everything they do.”

That’s something Cadet Sierra Slocum appreciates as a member of the JROTC.

“All these kids are right on the path,” Sierra said. “But as serious as [other cadets] take it, it’s still a lot of fun.”

The lessons in the program range from patriotism to history and basic life skills.

Students think the program is fun though, no matter what they are learning.

“We do a lot of fun stuff to train for competitions and build up a good mentality in everyone,” James said.

Cadet Eve Carrasquillo, dressed in the JROTC dress blues of blue pants, a light blue-collared button-down shirt, a blue tie, a dark blue-green jacket and a number of pins, ribbons and cords based on their achievements, was all smiles while describing the JROTC as “amazing.”

“I love being involved in it,” Eve said. “We do really fun activities, and we all work together kind of like a family. ... We have a bond built like no other.”

Students don their dress blues every Wednesday.

Some of the activities include street cleanups, snow tubing, marching with flags and more.

Rosezena Figueroa, another cadet, said she feels similar to Eve regarding the bond the group has.

“We all work as a big family and motivate one another not to give up on things,” Rosezena said.

All-in-all Cadet Jonathon Lee sums up JROTC as “more than just a team, but a family.”

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