ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — They travel, compete and provide Color Guard service for the community. But there is so much more to the JROTC programs in our schools. 

Whether it’s drilling, inspections or even practicing for a drone flying competition, the Cadets with the NJROTC program at Western Alamance High School are working toward their futures

According to Lt. Levi Blackwell, “We let the students take over let them learn the leadership, the responsibility, and accountability. So, we allow them, this is a fairly safe environment, so we allow ’em to make mistakes and what you think should happen.”

He adds, “So you learned some life lessons a little earlier than you would if you weren’t in ROTC.”

Those life lessons help the cadets find their voices. Treasure Neal is a Freshman at Western Alamance. She says being a cadet has really changed her life. 

“I would say it let me be more open and let me, like, speak more because last year while I was in middle school, I would be like quiet and not to not usually talk to anybody. But now that I’m in ROTC, I have made many friends, many more than I had last year. So, I say it’s been a good this year.”

Senior Brayden Perfetto agrees. “I used to be a kid that sat in the back of the room, probably really quiet, didn’t want to open up as much,” he says. “The JROTC actually brought me out and helped me to use my voice. It has allowed me the opportunity to use it and lead other cadets.”

The NJROTC programs are very regimented and organized. The cadets say that’s helped them in the classroom.

According to Noah Davis, a Western Senior, “I feel like it’s made me a better student by the attention to detail, like in math classes or in science, where if you forgot like an addition sign or something, you’d be able to pay attention. Notice you missed that. And it’s made me a better person by giving me better leadership qualities And followership. Followership is very important.”

While some of the cadets may graduate and go directly into the military, many others have different plans.

Like Hailey Mills. She says, “I want to go to college and study business and entrepreneurship.”

That’s exactly what the commanders want to see. Diversity in the cadets’ choices.

“Our mission here is citizenship development. Our goal is to make them better leaders, better followers, more responsible and accountable,” says Lt. Blackwell. “There’s not one job you can walk into and be like, ‘Hey, I have those attributes,’ and they’re going to say, ‘no, we don’t want that person.’ So, our goal is to make them successful, whether they become a doctor, a mechanic,  join the military or whatever their goal may be.”

For now, they’re happy to have the comradery that comes with being a cadet.