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home : news : military June 24, 2019

5/7/2019 1:36:00 PM
LHS JROTC Earns Distinguished Service Award
Cadets soar above and beyond
Members of Lincolnton High's Air Force JROTC Drill Team are seen here with some of their recent trophies.(Photos Courtesy Lt. Col. Robin Sites)
Members of Lincolnton High's
Air Force JROTC Drill Team are
seen here with some of
their recent trophies.

(Photos Courtesy Lt. Col. Robin Sites)

Lincoln Herald Staff

LINCOLNTON, N.C.––Lincolnton High School’s JROTC cadets are truly taking flight.

The unit is one of 376 nationwide to earn the Distinguished Service Award for performance well above and beyond normal expectations. Its members were recently recognized by the United States Air Force for outstanding service to their school and community, according to Lt. Col. Robin Sites. A U.S. Air Force retiree, Sites is a longtime adviser and senior aerospace instructor for Lincolnton High’s JROTC unit, providing it with seasoned instruction and guidance.

He explained this week that the Air Force JROTC is a high school leadership education program open to all students in grades nine through 12 and not just for students who wish to go into the military. Its mission is to “develop citizens of character, dedicated to serving their nation and community” by educating high school cadets in citizenship, promoting community service, instilling responsibility, character and self-discipline and providing instruction in air and space fundamentals. 

“Our curriculum is provided by the Air Force and includes leadership and personal development, Air Force heritage and traditions, personal fitness, the development of flight, applied flight sciences, global and cultural studies and space exploration,” said Sites. “Classes are taught by retired Air Force commissioned and noncommissioned officers who are full-time faculty members of LHS and are employed by the Lincoln County Schools. Classes explore civilian, industrial and military aerospace science and offer hands-on leadership experience. Cadets discover the historic and scientific aspects of tomorrow’s aerospace technology and will have the opportunity to fly many of the aircraft we study on our class flight-simulator program. They will also achieve self-reliance, self-discipline and other characteristics found in good leaders by serving in leadership positions in our cadet corps. Uniforms and books are provided by the Air Force at no cost to the cadets. Each cadet is required to wear the military uniform, provided by the Air Force, to school all day at least one day a week and to meet grooming standards that are the same as those for active duty Air Force personnel while in uniform. To reinforce what is learned in the classroom, cadets may participate in many outside activities, such as field trips, parades, summer leadership schools, drill team competitions, color guards, military balls, movie nights, model airplane and rocket teams and orienteering meets. And they can achieve membership in the Air Force JROTC Honor Society.

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“Our objective is not to recruit for the military but to inform the students about the options available to them in life and to produce better, well-rounded citizens,” he continued. “However, cadets who complete three years in JROTC and choose to enter the military immediately after graduation from high school are eligible to enter the Air Force two pay grades higher than other enlistees. Several of our past students have started their military careers with stripes on their sleeves and extra money in their pockets because they spent three or more semesters with us. Cadets who choose to continue their education may receive special consideration for Air Force ROTC scholarships. These pay for four years of tuition, books and fees at more than 1,000 universities and colleges.”

Sites noted that four Lincolnton High JROTC students have earned congressional appointments, worth more than $500,000, to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“The bottom line,” he said, “is that regardless of what students decide to do in the future––work, college or the military––the leadership, teamwork and self-discipline taught in the Air Force JROTC program help them succeed.”

Lincolnton High’s JROTC program is completing its 13th year, Sites informed.

“And it’s getting better every year,” he said. “We have received six consecutive Distinguished Unit Awards from the Air Force. This past year, we completed more than 1,700 community service hours; competed in four drill meets and four orienteering meets; marched in two parades; hosted two military balls; and ran model rocketry and aircraft teams. We run parking at all our home football games, the Special Olympics and Relay for Life. We present the colors at sporting events, ceremonies and civic events. We clean a section of North Aspen Street; teach Junior Achievement lessons to fourth grade classes; help at the Lincoln County Airport Fly-In; and too many more events to mention. We try to do a little bit more, a little bit better every year.

“As JROTC instructors,” he added, “our most important job is to serve as mentors and advocates for our students and work with their other teachers to help them be successful in all their classes. British author Rudyard Kipling wrote, ‘The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.’ As proud members of the LHS Wolfpack, we have adopted these words as a motto in JROTC. We believe that our strength as individuals comes from the positive relationships we build and nurture with those around us, which in turn makes our team stronger as well. We focus on helping all our students––our ‘wolves’––develop these relationships that help them grow in maturity and wisdom in an uplifting, encouraging environment: our ‘pack.’ In short, JROTC is a family, and we care about and take care of each other by serving as a positive peer group where every student can fit in and feel at home.”

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