Ignite College and Career Academy’s JROTC cadets put feet to their values

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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It has been said one of the most healing and restorative actions someone can take is to be of service to others. Service is therapeutic in many ways. When absorbed in our world which can sometimes be very painful, a simple act of service not only allows us to get outside of the pain, but it also puts something good in our community. Sometimes our service is bold, sometimes our service is in the details. Any service makes an impact. Service can be as simple as placing the stranded grocery buggy back in its stall to ensure it causes no harm, as holding a door, as not blocking a parking lot exit point so someone leaving can enter the line of traffic, as picking up an object someone dropped, or even saying hello to a stranger. For a moment in all of these, there is relief from living so far inside of ourselves. Service can also be complex. Our law enforcement provide service every day, some of them on our worst days. There are volunteer boards which ensure Sumter County sees growth in significant ways by recruiting business and achieving strategic goals to improve our future, Others serve in the arts and tourism to ensure Sumter County is enjoyed by citizens and visitors alike. At many a faith-based institution you will find people whose mission it is to feed the hungry, assist the poor and provide restoration for weary souls. Service comes in many fashions, and everyone makes a decision as to what their service looks like. Just as actively choosing to serve is a choice, so is not participating in service. We, intentionally or not, make a decision.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) of Sumter County High School, which is an Ignite College and Career Academy (CCA) pathway into a professional career, takes seriously the opportunity to serve. It is an appropriate intention as their mission is, “Motivate young students to become better citizens.” JROTC sees service as a direct way to become a better citizen. There are many reasons good citizenship is important for JROTC. The CCA’s task is to offer these students an opportunity to determine if military service would be a rewarding career for them. Our military hold service to country as a sacred duty. Knowing such, JROTC begins to instill the value of service in developmental years. Most recently, the JROTC could be found putting in a hard day’s work into beautifying our city owned cemeteries, Oak Grove and East View.

JROTC enjoys the fruit of their labor

Teaching service in school has become a goal for some schools. Our educational system sees the value in learning not only academics, but in learning service to others. The value placed upon the benefits of good citizenship is one which can be actively applied in life as an adult, no matter their future plans. Lt. Colonel David Cook is tasked with “teaching teamwork and leadership in the classroom.” However, the CCA knows the power of taking classroom lessons and applying the skills outside of the classroom. As the Lt. Colonel says the goal is to “execute lessons learned in the classroom to the outside community.” Lt. Colonel Cook explains further, “Service Learning is an integral part of the JROTC program that integrates the meaning of community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities.” With this goal in mind, on Friday, May 13, 65 cadets put their learning to work on behalf of the City of Americus.

Sargent Seth Howell had taken note of a need in the city cemeteries. He noticed citizens were concerned. Knowing if the citizens were concerned, the City of Americus would also be concerned, a contact was made with Mike Sistrunk, Americus’ Public Works Director, to see how the cadets could put their skills to work on behalf of citizens. Mike was quick to welcome the cadets and a plan was put in place to beautify what many consider sacred ground. According to Lt. Colonel Cook, the students went to work “old school.” Instead of power tools, like blowers and edge trimmers they had rakes, brooms and shovels. The Lt. Colonel says it was very much a “full day of manual labor and they enjoyed it and had a great time.” There was cleaning of graves, removing natural debris such as leaves and fallen limbs, removing ragged and faded floral arrangements and removing the trash was all part of the event. What can not be overlooked is the pride of knowing the students had both achieved a goal the citizens had defined and had honed some valuable skills which will be invested in their future endeavors.

Mayor Lee Kinnamon talks history with students

While these students are learning about military life, they are also learning soft skills which make for a good employee of any type. Teamwork, leadership, accomplishing the task in front of them, identifying an issue and taking initiative to resolve it, following directives, showing up on time and being of assistance to their fellow workers were but some of the skills which will prove beneficial no matter what line of work they enter. The day was so effective there is excitement about future opportunities to work hand in hand with the City of Americus or any other municipality.

The event was a beautiful example of what the JROTC and the CCA are capable of. There was a standard set for anyone who seeks to make our home better. While there is a place and a need for people to identify an issue, there is just as great if not greater need for people to put feet to the actions which better the situation. On Friday, those feet belonged to 65 well educated young cadets. What does Dr. Don Gilman the CEO of the CCA think as he sees the CCA’s mission come to life? He is quite proud of the cadets and their leaders. “Our staff and students go over and beyond. Both make a point to better this community’s future and their own future by being of service not only towards those they know, but towards many, whose faces they may never see. That is character. That is what makes for a better world. One lesson at a time, one action at a time, makes for success. The lessons which culminated in this event, will reverberate for generations. Strong community and good citizenship are worthy goals, and it is our pleasure to see only the beginning of the fruits which will be reaped from these investments.”

Hard at work and getting the job done

Next time you get an opportunity to put feet to service, remember these cadets. They are good examples of fine citizenship. When a problem is identified, be willing to offer yourself to the solution. No doubt, the service itself will end up giving you the gift. We absolutely need more to enjoy the mindset of these young adults. It is with certainty these cadets would encourage you to bring your talents to the table. They are needed. They matter. They make all of us shine.

Great job ladies and gentlemen, and on behalf of generations of Sumter County families, our residents, and the City of Americus, we thank you for your heart towards service. It too is needed. It too matters. You have made all of us shine.