JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
A crosstown agreement between Lackland and Northside Independent School District will now allow students attending Lackland ISD at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to enroll in its Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps courses starting in fall 2018.
This is the first time an agreement has been made between the two districts, according to Lackland ISD superintendent Burnie Roper.
“We’ve been trying to get an ROTC program here forever, but we’ve always been told we’re too small,” Roper said. “Being on an Air Force base, it only makes sense that we have our own ROTC program for kids.”
Lackland ISD recently conducted a survey to see if students between eighth and 11th grades were interested.
“We got about 20-25 students who expressed interest,” said Hunter Shelby, Virginia Allred Stacey JR-SR High School principal. “Once we had that number, we decided it was worth the time to try to establish something with another unit.”
Lackland ISD students who enroll in JROTC will be bused to John Jay High School to take the course. Once there, they will receive credit for the course they take, but they will also have to take a self-paced online course at Lackland ISD as part of the agreement.
Shelby believes the program will be a great opportunity for his students.
“I’m excited that they’re going to get to participate with a unit that is already established and knows what they’re doing,” Shelby said.
Students will receive uniforms that will be worn every Wednesday, the same as John Jay High School JROTC students do, Roper said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the ones that participate walk around our campus in uniform,” Roper said, adding that this could help generate future recruitment for the program.
The new students will be under the leadership of Col. John Lopardi, Senior Aerospace Science instructor, TX-782, from John Jay High School. John Jay has been a nationally honored JROTC program for several years.
“We are a successful program because the instructors believe in the students,” Lopardi , adding that taking the course should be an easy transition. “I’ve got a good feeling with this crosstown agreement because the parents are all military and they already have structure in their life and discipline in their life.”
Stacey Junior and Senior High School students visited the John Jay High School campus in February on JROTC dress day. Lopardi said giving the visiting students a front row seat to what will be expected of them is important.
“We tell our cadets that when you wear that uniform, you’re representing the United States Air Force,” Lopardi said.
Lackland ISD officials are hopeful this new course offering will lead to the formation of a JROTC program at JBSA-Lackland in the future once word gets out and more students enroll.
“Having this program now allows students at Lackland ISD to really understand and link the importance of the sacrifices their parents have made and continue to make,” said Lori Phipps, Lackland ISD Military Child Education Program school liaison.
For now, they’re happy to be taking that first step.
“This is going to be a big bonus for Lackland ISD,” Phipps said.