Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs of all services across the country have struggled to meet the minimum enrollment requirements of 100 students since the Covid pandemic. The Michigan City High School (MCHS) JROTC conducted a presentation to the 8th graders at Barker and Krueger Middle Schools on February 7th to boost enrollment for the next school year. The presentation was introduced by the Senior Marine Instructor, Major Tom McGrath. The JROTC cadets then demonstrated military regulation and exhibition drill, then transitioned to different physical fitness events. The two highest ranking cadets, Captain Marcus Mantel and 2nd Lieutenant Alexandra Reed, delivered their reflections from being in the program for 3 years. The students were then given an opportunity to ask questions and speak to cadets one-on-one.

McGrath emphasized that JROTC is a leadership program, not a preparation for the military program. Although it will help a student who decides to enter the military, it is not designed to be a recruiting tool. He also highlighted that many cadets fill leadership roles in other school extracurriculars such as athletics, the band, and technology clubs. The JROTC has many extracurricular teams — including Military Drill, Raider, CyberPatriot and more — that are available to cadets. None are required.

Master Sergeant Jeff Benak, the Marine Instructor, was impressed with the attentiveness of the 8th graders and the enthusiasm they showed for the presentation. “They were really into what our cadets were doing. We just hope that it translates into an increase in our enrollment.”

The Military Drill team is preparing to compete in its final drill meet of the year at Fort Wayne Concordia High School on March 2nd. The JROTC have a number of Michigan City Area School events which they will support next month which include Career Days at Lake HIlls Elementary School and Barker Middle School, and the Indiana Boys Basketball Regional and Semi-State tournaments held at the MCHS gym.