NJROTC Teaches Senior Cadet Leadership Skills

Alora Smith, Guest Reporter

There she stood, anxiously waiting at the end of a line. Today was the day she would be inspected on knowledge of military rules. She would be fine. Senior Christina Reyes of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps had gone over the questions she would have to answer many times, all she needed was a little confidence.

“My first memorable experience with ROTC was my very first inspection in my freshman year,” Reyes said. “My teacher had always told me I’m so quiet and that I need to be more outgoing. So when she formed us up for the inspection, she came up to me and I said the introduction you’re always supposed to say. But I was scared and I started to mess up and she told me to breathe and believe that I would do it if I felt confident. Sure enough, I took one deep breath and I was loud and proud and got my questions right. It showed me that in ROTC we don’t give up on each other but instead we help each other be the best part of ourselves.”

Reyes joined the military program NJROTC as a way to teach herself discipline, and now wants to use what she’s learned to become a police officer.

“I joined ROTC because I was a kid that always got in trouble, and I thought it could teach me discipline. And it did,” Reyes said. “I haven’t gotten in really bad trouble since my freshman year.”

ROTC is a military regulated training program. It’s purpose is to teach students to be proper U.S. citizens, and potentially become military officers. Members learn responsibility, military etiquette, respect, leadership and prepare for the Annual Military Inspections or AMI. These inspections are when military officers come to inspect the class on knowledge and drills and the teachers to see how well they do their jobs. Members of ROTC also prepare to compete with other members in the state.

“I would say the one thing I have a hard time in is ranking up,” Reyes said. “We have a process of tasks we have to do. One thing we have to do to take a test, and I’m horrible at test taking so it’s really hard for me to remember the information and put it down.”

Reyes is on a drill team called Unarmed, in which they march and make sounds with their feet and hands to create a rhythm. 

“Unarmed is what I enjoy the most,” Reyes said. “It was really exciting to be on a team that understands how to drill.  Unarmed is like a family. We help each other with drills obviously, but we also help each other with our grades and personal lives.”

In ROTC, students are sometimes allowed to be platoon commander, which functions similarly to a teacher. The platoon commander is responsible for things like role call and carrying out assigned tasks for the unit.

“The most memorable part of ROTC was when I did AMI and was a platoon commander last year,” Reyes said. “It was so scary because one sudden thing you do wrong can change a point for the whole ROTC unit.”

Reyes received an award for participating and trying in ROTC, and she always attends practices for Unarmed. She has shown leadership skills and responsibility. 

“ROTC showed me I can lead a group of guys and girls if I put my mind to it and stop being scared and get out of my comfort zone,” Reyes said. “It showed me how to be responsible. If I say I want to be involved with a task, then I show up and put in effort.” 

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