TALBOT COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – The Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program at Central High School is experiencing lower numbers of enrollment than usual.
Maj. Gene England, the Senior Army Instructor for the Hawk Battalion at Central High School, said the program is typically expected to have 50 students enrolled; however, only 39 are currently enrolled. He credits the drop in student participation to families moving out of the area.
Aijalon Malone, is a senior and the Battalion Commander at Central High, said she has been enrolled in JROTC since her freshman year; she hopes to join the Air Force after graduation.
“It’s a great program, you can learn a lot from it and it also helps you out in the long run,” said Malone.
Malone serves as the leader for the other 38 students enrolled in the course and said she has learned accountability and responsibility as a result.
Similar to Malone, Kaitlyn Jones has been enrolled in JROTC for several years and serves as a Platoon Sergeant (PLTSGT).
“I’ve learned a lot of responsibility, a lot of personal courage within myself and helping others and also doing the right thing in general,” said Jones.
Jones said she was very shy when she joined the program and the Battalion S3 Nykia Greenlee agrees that JROTC has helped them grow their confidence and discover their self worth.
“One of the things that used to be the most challenging for me was being a leader and participating in certain stuff. When I joined JROTC I was shy and I didn’t have the character that I have now,” said Greenlee.
The program is typically designated for high schoolers but due to the low number of students enrolled, it has expanded to eighth graders as well. Maj. England said it is possible for the program to be pulled if the enrollment numbers do not increase because of the funds The Army is putting into it.
“Within the community itself there is so much that they do. Between interacting with the homeless and the underserved within the community. The Army typically does not want to do that but at a certain point, and there is not a set dollar figure, they have to look at how much money they’re putting into this,” said Maj. England.