With a resounding, enthusiastic vote, the Washington School District Board of Education has approved the start of a Naval Junior ROTC program for high school students, beginning in the next school year. Final details still have to be worked out, but the board has authorized administrators to develop plans for the program.

The program would be offered as an option for male and female students, and the plan is to make it available to students at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School also. The goal is to have 100 or more students in the program.

It is a great opportunity for students to learn leadership skills, discipline, citizenship and to become responsible citizens. The program has proved its value in many high schools across the county. Junior ROTC programs are in place and have been successful at St. Clair and Pacific high schools.

The program can prepare a student for a career in the military but that is not the sole purpose. Experience has shown that the program has motivated students to develop leadership qualities and for some to refocus their lives in becoming better citizens and responsible students. The program will instill a discipline value that the students will carry with them the rest of their lives. For those who do decide on a career in the military, it will give them a head start when entering the service.

It is expected that an instructor or two may be former Marines since that branch of the service works closely with the Navy.

Uniform costs are expected to be about $250 for each student. It is not known how much the government will allocate for uniforms. It is known that the government does provide equipment that is needed. Cutbacks to the military will be a factor in how much money is available for the program at WHS. Donations have been pledged from veterans’ groups. The leadership of the Korean War Veterans Association’s chapter in Washington will seek approval from members for a fund drive to help defray the cost of uniforms to the students.

The program has been endorsed by veterans’ organizations since former members of the military recognize the benefits. The military has outlined the basic objectives: To promote patriotism; develop informed and responsible citizens; promote habits of orderliness and precision; develop respect for constituted authority; develop a high degree of personal honor, self-reliance, individual discipline and leadership; develop respect for and an understanding of the need for constituted authority in a democratic society; and develop interest in the military as a possible career.

The values that the program teaches and promotes are good for the students, the school, families, community and our nation.