“I always wanted to join the military,” says NJROTC executive officer Jared Stephens. “I just felt like I have a need to serve my country.”
For the past nine years, the Navy Junior ROTC program at Rockport Fulton High School has been training students for a successful military career.
“We have a lot of trophies because we’re a very successful team,” says former commanding officer Justin Tunchez.
“In order to become a pilot in the military you need to become an officer and so this really really helps,” says Stephens.
The program allows students to enter college with a higher rank than their peers. They also have the opportunity to earn scholarships.
But the future of about 110 cadets is in limbo.
“It was like someone took a big punch and just punched us in the stomach,” says parent Dawn Beckwith.
Due to a retirement, the program currently has no instructor.
Last Thursday, former students learned the school board planned to vote on eliminating the program.
“At the school board meeting which was held about 30 minutes after the text,” says Tunchez.
After a plea from parents and students, the school board gave them just one week to fill the spot.
If the vacant spot is not filled, Juniors and Seniors will finish the program at a nearby district, but underclassmen will be left out.
“There’s 50 states in America and they couldn’t find one person,” Soto.
Now it’s a race against the clock, as the deadline nears.
Students say it’s insensitive, considering everything they went through after hurricane Harvey.
“Transporting all our supplies due to our annex being destroyed,” says Soto.
“We didn’t think we were going to make it this year cause the hurricane set off our practices, we didn’t get to practice for two months, but we still made it,” says Stephens.
Parents, students, alumni have taken to social media to plead their case.
They say, so far the response has been positive.
“We really need this program to continue for all of us,” says Stephens.
If you are interested in the position contact the RFHS principal Scott Rogers at 361-790-2220. You can also fax a resume to 361-790-2206.