Home-schoolers form JROTC unit

By Brittany Penland
[email protected]
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012

Read more here: Home-schoolers form JROTC unit | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

Christopher McNally has been interested in the military since he was a child, but has never been able to join a JROTC program at school, because he is home-schooled.
For the past six months, with the help of a few home-school friends, Christopher, 17, decided to take matters into his own hands and create a home-school JROTC program in Charlotte – only the second home-school program in the nation to be formed, he said.
“It takes initiative,” Christopher said. “Nothing is going to happen if you just sit idle.”
He said he got started by contacting a retired Army officer, who offered advice on how to kick off the program. It grew from there.

So far, the Patriot Battalion-Homeschool Army JROTC cadets have hosted four open houses and have participated in multiple sporting events, including posting the colors at a Carolina Pride football game.

“We’re all just looking for that military experience,” Christopher said.
One of the benefits of a home-school JROTC program is that the curriculum can be adjusted to better address the interests of the cadets, Christopher said. “We can mold it to fit our career skills,” he said.
The group is recruiting at least 75 cadets, which is the minimum number of participants the program needs to be recognized and funded by the Army, said Susan Sims, a mother and coordinator of the home-school program. Currently, the group has about 50 cadets, just shy of the required goal.

“I think one thing that helps is when you have a group of guys or friends who are with you, to make it easier,” said Dallas Sims, 16. “It’s more fun when you have people who will back you up and be there to help you.”
Owen Sims, 13, says he doesn’t know what to expect out of the program in the fall, but he is excited to begin. Because he is a rising freshman, Owen will be able to complete four full years of the program.

Within the program, there are a variety of teams the cadets can choose to join, including the color guard, drill team, honor guard and raider team.
Trevor Pollick, 17, said he is looking forward to the raider team, which is one of the more physically challenging aspects of the JROTC program. On the team, cadets will learn to rappel and jump from simulation towers, and learn about land navigation, first aid and basic survival skills.

While most of Patriot Battalion cadets hold an interest in joining the military following school, Susan Sims emphasized that the program is not meant to be a recruiting tool: It is a character education and leadership program.

The group meets twice a week and uses various armories in the area to assemble, with a central location in Charlotte. There will be a program interest meeting at the Charlotte National Guard Armory at 9 a.m. Jan. 28.
Penland: 704-358-6043

JROTC interest meeting:
Charlotte National Guard Armory
4240 West Blvd.
Homeschool Army JROTC

Upcoming schedule:
Feb. 11 - Fort Bragg for airborne jump tower training and the special operations museum.
Feb. 18 - Charlotte National Guard Armory.

Read more here: Home-schoolers form JROTC unit | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper