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Louisa County High School campaigns for Junior Reserve Officers Training Program

Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 7:57 am

Members of the Louisa County High School Armed Services Club practice before a football game. School administrators are seeking approval from the U.S. Air Force to start a JROTC program for students who plan a career in the military.

Louisa County Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education program has launched a letter-writing campaign to garner support for a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) at Louisa County High School.

The school currently has an Armed Services Club comprised of more than 30 students who meet multiple times a week. Now, Louisa County Public Schools administrators say the time has arrived to take the program to an even higher level.

“Our goal here at Louisa County Public Schools is to fully equip students for their next phase in life, whether it’s the military, college, or the workforce,” LCPS Superintendent Doug Straley said. “Receiving the necessary support for a JROTC program would play a significant role in our continued commitment to excellence for our students.”

“The natural next step in this process is to install a JROTC Program,” LCPS Career and Technical Education Coordinator Kenneth Bouwens said. “This will help us become an even greater model for rural schools to aspire to. JROTC programs are extremely beneficial to school divisions because they have a track record of instilling discipline and creating a culture of respect and service.”

The school division’s CTE department is looking to receive the required military approval for a fully-funded JROTC program. LCPS has filled out applications for the United States Army, the United States Navy, and the United States Air Force. The greatest progress in the application process has been with the Air Force, which is now the focus of the school division’s letter-writing campaign.

Air Force officials received the school division’s comprehensive application in September 2017, and conducted a site survey on March 2018. The natural landscape and  state-of-the-art learning areas at the high school were enough to immediately put the school in the top 30 percent of Virginia schools qualifying for a JROTC program.

But while LCHS ranks 71st out of 226 schools in its eight-state region, the Air Force only accepts an average of 10 new JROTC programs a year, meaning LCHS could face a potentially long wait if the status quo doesn’t change.

“Simply put, this project is a way for our school division and community members to collaborate for the benefit of each other, and at the same time, really get the United States Air Force’s attention,” Bouwens said.

In previous months, Bouwens corresponded with Delegate John McGuire and Representative Dave Brat to generate support. But now, Bouwens stresses that the process has grown past the local phase, and now entered the national landscape.

“Our lawmakers have really made it clear to me that if we want to make a JROTC program a reality for the Fall 2019 semester, the United States Air Force is the singular place we need to reach out to,” Bouwens said.

“I know our community can rally together as we always do to make this vision a reality for our school division,” Straley said. “We really appreciate this community’s continued support of our school division.”

If you would like to contribute by writing a letter, please email Bouwens at bouwenka@lcps.k12.va.us or call the Louisa County Public Schools CTE office at (540) 894-5115, extension 7049. An email template will be provided.

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