ROTC innovation
by By JOYANNA WEBER Banner Staff Writer
Dec 10, 2012 | 1537 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JROTC CADET Amber Calfree goes through the obstacle course during class. The logs for the course are recycled telephone poles that had been knocked down during the tornadoes in April 2011. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
JROTC CADET Amber Calfree goes through the obstacle course during class. The logs for the course are recycled telephone poles that had been knocked down during the tornadoes in April 2011. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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BRADLEY CENTRAL JROTC, from left, staff Sgt. Gurstle Buckner, staff Sgt. Nathan Ledford, 1st Sgt. Conner Hamilton, Captian David Plott and Master Sgt. Shelby Kazy stand with Sgt. 1st Class Roger Wright and 1st Lt. Matt Pell and Sgt. 1st Class Payton Cooper. The group was joined by other cadets and parent volunteers in completing a training obstacle course. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
Bradley Central High School Junior ROTC cadets are developing skills in leadership and teamwork, while also generating equipment to use in class.

An obstacle course and rappelling wall were constructed with volunteers from the class, under the supervision of Sgt. 1st Class Roger Wright. Some parents also came to help out.

Second Lt. Victor Veloz said working on the projects has helped foster unity among his fellow students. It also adds a fun element to the class’ exercises.

Cadet Lt. Col. Jay Fitzsimmons said working on the obstacle course gave the students the opportunity to see a project progress from the idea stage to completion.

Veloz said those students who worked on the project showed they really do want to be in JROTC.

“The more you put into something, the more you get out of it,” Veloz said.

Many of the materials for the obstacle course and rappelling tower were reused or recycled material. Other needed elements were donated.

Wright said the rappelling tower was constructed from an old bandstand and telephone pole.

“We got a lot of the lumber thanks to Cleveland Utilities. These were telephone poles that were knocked down during the storms in 2011,” Wright said.

A net from an old baseball batting cage was recycled as part of the Army crawl portion of the obstacle course. Additional donations to the project were made by Lowe’s and Fasteners Inc.

The group also received help from the Air Force Reserve in digging holes for beams used to construct obstacles.

Approximately 20 to 30 of the JROTC cadet were a part of building the obstacle course.

Cadets must step through a series of tires, then flip a large tire a few feet. Next, they lunge over a series of oversized hurdles.

After the hurdles, cadets climb a “stairway” of logs before going through another series of hurdles and chin-up exercises. Then, they must traverse a wooden wall. The obstacle course ends in an Army crawl.

Wright said he wanted to develop this equipment ever since the Bradley program began 2 1/2 years ago.

Fitzsimmons said the obstacle course will be expanded in the future.

The rappelling tower has been completed, but has not been used yet. The class must wait until Wright and Col. Chris Ingel are certified before they can begin using the rappelling tower. More equipment is also being purchased.

“I’m excited about it. I love to rappel,” Fitzsimmons said.

He is also excited about this opportunity because rappelling is not something offered at BCHS.

“It will just add some fun, different aspects to the classes,” Fitzsimmons said.

Both Fitzsimmons and Veloz have been in the program since it was started at Bradley.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the military, so that’s why I thought this would be a great class,” Fitzsimmons said. “Now, I love it because it’s more than that. It teaches you how to be a leader.”

“I thought it would be a good experience,” Veloz said.

When Fitzsimmons first joined BCHS JROTC, he did not realize how much time he would be putting into the program.

“I didn’t realize it would be pretty much a cadet-run organization with the colonel and sergeant there to guide. They do a ton, but they also let us do a lot to get the experience,” Fitzsimmons said.

BCHS JROTC has 170 cadets. Fitzsimmons said this more participation than other schools he has seen, which average 120 to 130 cadets.