For some, Memorial Day is another day off school or work. For others, it is the unofficial start to summer. And for many, it is a day to fire up the backyard grill.
For Lt. Kenneth Brandon and Senior Chief Calvin Davis, who lead the Navy JROTC program at Green Dot Public School’s Alain Leroy Locke College Prep Academy, Memorial Day means something else.
“This is a holiday where we honor those that have fought and lost their lives for something we sometimes take for granted,” Davis says. Senior Chief Calvin Davis will be retiring from Locke High School at the end of the school year where he has been teaching JROTC since 1993.
Locke’s Navy JROTC program includes 105 students and focuses on citizenship and leadership development, with an emphasis on naval-related topics such as the United States’ maritime heritage, navigation and meteorology, Davis says, adding: “Classroom instruction is augmented throughout the year by extra-curricular activities of community service, academic, athletic, drill and orienteering competitions, field meets, visits to naval or other activities, marksmanship sports training, and physical fitness training.”
The program also provides an opportunity for mentors to work with students, Brandon says.
“Today’s schools need hard-working, caring and responsible mentors,” he says. “I love helping students overcome everyday challenges, through citizenship and leadership, self-esteem, teamwork and discipline.”
Life after Locke
NJROTC cadet and 10th grader Isaac Rac says the program is helping to prepare him for “life after Locke.”
“After high school I want to go to college and study astronomy or anything with science,” Isaac explains. “The opportunities that have been presented to me by NJROTC are working with great people like Lt. Brandon and Senior Chief Davis.”
Cadet Kensha Bell describes his fellow cadets as “students who are planning ahead for life” in NJROTC. “I feel this way about it because not only do you learn how to work with people, you also get a sense of how the workplace is going to be,” he says.
The 10th grader has some pretty specific plans in place already. “My plans for after high school are to go to college and to start up a non-profit. I also want to serve in the Army and run for president in 2038!”
While NJROTC does focus on prepping its cadets for the long term, it also immediately impacts their lives in high school, Davis says.
“Cadets learn the value of teamwork and individual accomplishments from belonging to NJROTC,” he stresses. “The character education in Navy JROTC teaches values, principles, and self-discipline promoting positive, productive behaviors and provides a support structure that is critical in helping cadets embrace a healthy and fit lifestyle.”
It also has impacted Locke positively, he adds.
“Parents, teachers and administrators give the Navy JROTC cadets high praise for the many ways their involvement is seen at school,” he says. “Here at Locke, Navy JROTC cadets can always be relied upon to help out around campus and in the community when extra hands are needed. Their community service activities have brought positive recognition to our school.”