As schools look for innovative ways to inspire and motivate students toward excellence, we were pleased to hear Tupelo Public School District superintendent Rob Picou include ROTC in his vision for the new school year.

The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) is one of the largest character development and citizenship programs for youth in the world with a stated mission of “motivating young people to be better citizens.”

Citizenship, leadership, character and community service are the core principles of high school JROTC programs, which foster partnerships with communities and educational institutions.

While the program does have a strong military influence, it is not a military preparation class and students are not required to join the military after high school.

JROTC helps cultivate self-confidence, discipline, time-management and problem-solving skills that position students for success inside and outside the classroom. The biggest benefit of participating in JROTC is that it teaches life skills that many high schools don’t emphasize, and for some, aren’t taught at home. These are all core values and skills employers are looking for today because the shortage of workers with these type skills is a common concern for businesses.

In many cases, instructors become reliable role models who students also can count on to help guide them to becoming productive, patriotic citizens. And because JROTC is funded by the military branches, it’s free to join, without any obligation.

We hope this program becomes a reality at Tupelo Public Schools and that consideration is given to creating a 7th or 8th grade course that teaches U.S. Military History, incorporating the value of service through JROTC. Let’s not wait until 9th grade to get them interested and excited about the program.

The addition of JROTC to the program of studies would be beneficial for Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi and we support this noteworthy vision from the TPSD superintendent.

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