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4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

West Virginia high school program teaches self-discipline, leadership skills to students

By Sgt. Caitlin Brink | 4th Marine Corps District | March 25, 2015


Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps cadets at St. Albans High School marched through their biannual inspection with heads held high March 10, in St. Albans, West Virginia.

Local Marines from Recruiting Sub-station Huntington judged cadets based on the MCJROTC program mission - to instill in students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.

“When schools have programs like this they get the leadership and skills they otherwise would never have any kind of experience with,” said Sgt. Joseph A. Wood, a Marine Corps recruiter and Huntington, W.Va., native. “A lot of these kids come from broken homes, from families that don’t give them discipline or leadership skills and they come to school and are expected to get everything.”

The St. Albans High School MCJROTC program, which has been in place for decades, is one of only two in the county

This inspection was a way for cadets to see how they have progressed in the program and for Marines to see how the program is shaping the community’s youth. The cadets trained for two weeks for the inspection.

“I feel like I’ve definitely gained a lot of confidence,” said Jacob M. Welch, a third-year cadet and St. Albans High School junior. “Having the Marines come in and judge us was intense but I liked it, it’s what I expected.”

Marines judged cadets on their knowledge of leadership traits and principles, confidence, bearing and basic close-order drill movements, showing their growth as a team.

“It’s a little stressful but it felt good, it felt right,” said Michael H. Kitts, a high school junior and third-year cadet. “I feel like it’s going to prepare me to a decent degree for when I go in [the Marine Corps.] This program is great.”

According to senior leadership in the program, one goal of MCJROTC is to produce model citizens for society, beginning at the high school level.

“They get put in charge of platoons, held accountable for their actions,” said Wood. “They get some of that self-reliance so even though some of them aren’t becoming Marines, they’re still set up and stand above their peers because they’ve got some responsibility under their belt.”