Ignite CCA’s JROTC brings their service to the citizens of Americus
Published 1:15 pm Monday, April 24, 2023
Tracy K. Hall
April 19, 2023, was a grand day for Ignite’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program as well as the City of Americus. Every year the JROTC) has a day of service which gives the cadets an opportunity to have the satisfaction of being useful to the community. Being a leader as well as a good citizen is something JROTC strives for and on April 19, they found themselves providing some much needed assistance to Americus as they provide green spaces and parks to citizens.
The day starts early and there is a full list in front of the cadets. On this day they would be taking on Joyce Myer park as well as a city park on Oak Avenue. Mike Sistrunk, the city’s public works director sings the praises of the cadets as he cheers them on. Mike wants the whole community “to feel like they are part of something” and he focuses his attention on all areas of the city to ensure each sect of the city is being maintained to his best ability. The Joyce Myer and Oak Drive properties are not the only ones who are receiving some good work. Other civic organizations have picked up other parks and JROTC has been a phenomenal help in keeping Oak Grove Cemetery up to standards in the past. Why is this kind of effort needed? As Mike states, “we are so understaffed, that things like this that get used every day by the public needs maintenance, but we don’t always have the people to do it.” When you are responsible for the entirety of public works to include infrastructure of the city, things have to be prioritized. With the helping hands of JROTC, projects such as the parks do not have to be left behind. “With the kids here, it’s so important they have some things to go to.” Our park system provides such a place for both kids and families. “We want places kids can go play and feel safe at.” Prior to even beginning the project, Mike reports the cadets helped tremendously in gathering litter. After the gathering task was done, they moved on to unloading and spreading wood chips throughout the park.
The work is laborsome and not easy. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow is dumped, taken to a determined location and then spread evenly. The cadets appear to enjoy the work, sometimes even busting out into the march cadences as the work gets accomplished. There are identifiable groups around the park, each with a special task to get done. Col. David Cook, who leads the JROTC program reports this project is something his cadets look forward to all year. In total he has 155 cadets over two semesters. There were about 60 cadets at the park. “It gets the kids involved in the community it teaches them about responsibility and hard work and effort. It’s a good opportunity to give back to their community and make them better citizens. That is our mission—to make young people better citizens.” He reports being proud of his cadets. Leadership, citizenship and teamwork are a priority. Behavioral and academic success are required to be a part of JROTC.
Two of the cadets were especially outstanding in the work. A ninth grade cadet, Desiree Powell reports she lives close to the park, and when she was younger, she used the park a great deal herself. “I’m proud of myself, I put a lot into it.” She reports she looks forward to community service day because she gets to “test her endurance and help the community at the same time.” Desiree reports she is looking into joining the Army. Jalen Wallace, an eleventh grader reports “I like doing physical work and helping my community out.” He agrees his leadership skills have grown through his time with JROTC. Jalen intends to join the Air Force and has already taken some steps to serve the country. He has family who have served in the Marines.
As the day moved forward the cadets finished their project and moved to the next one. Their work not only leaves behind a better Americus, but it should also be noted the cadets themselves leave a fine impression and the skills they are procuring will indeed go to meet the JROTC goal of making for greater citizens. Thank you to the JROCT, Col. David Cook, Mike Sistrunk and all of the volunteers who choose to reap the joys of service. Great communities are built upon such a fine foundation.