Thursday, February 26, 2009

NJROTC helps King George High School students excel in leadership, teamwork

U.S. Navy photo by Doug Davant
Paul Hutnyan with KGHS students Jamie Smith (middle) and Katie Lawrence (right) at drill meet.
The Navy’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) has been a part of King George High School for more than a decade and a half. The military program came about at the behest of Dahlgren naval leaders such as former Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Commander Capt. Robert Fuscaldo, who worked with the King George County school board to afford another important educational outlet for county students.

Much of the benefits of NJROTC might be illustrated by its cadet commander, Paul Michael Hutnyan.

Hutnyan, the son of Naval Support Facility Dahlgren’s Alice Stanton who works for the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Dept. here, has consistently logged a high scholastic grade point (A&B) average through his high school NJROTC experience and will continue his academic path at the University of Virginia next year where he intends to major in religious studies in the hope of becoming a minister.

‘‘NJROTC has taught me about teamwork and leadership,” he said in summing up his interest in the program.

Hutnyan is also a swimmer (100 meter free style specialist) on the Foxes swim team and helped it this season to a district title. He hopes to help it capture a state title later this year.

As with swimming, he pointed out that NJROTC is a significant whole because of the sum of its parts.

‘‘We work together well,” he said in noting last weekend’s hosting by the high school of a regional drill meet. ‘‘This event took a lot of teamwork and was mostly organized by the drill team commander, Desiree Ragan. I believe we have really great people here at this beautiful new high school facility and it really goes to show what we can do,” he said.

The Foxes’ NJROTC-hosted drill meet was for eight visiting teams (Huntington, Herndon, Great Mills, Culpeper and Patrick Henry High Schools in Virginia; and LaPlata, Osborne Park and Annapolis High Schools of Maryland).

The teams were judged by Marines from the Marine Barracks at 8th and I Streets in Washington, D.C. and by Navy chief petty officers from the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren (Fire Control Gun Systems Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Polk from the Center for Surface Combat Systems; Communications Technician Chief Petty Officer Chad King of the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, Fire Controlman Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Brunton from the Aegis Training and Readiness Center; and Fire Controlman Chief Petty Officer Dave Ringlette from the Aegis Training and Readiness Center).

King George drill team commander Ragan, who leads the 15-person unit with Hutynan helping as a member when it competes in the region, explained some of the aspects of Foxes’ elite unit.

‘‘We start at six o’clock in the morning to do drill team,” she said. ‘‘It is done for an hour before school begins.”

Ragan, who plans to pursue a nursing major at Christopher Newport University next year after graduation said she joined NJROTC because ‘‘it gave me confidence.”

‘‘I was very shy and quiet when I first came here from Stafford. NJROTC really helped me a taught me about leadership and team work.”

Ragan became interested in the program in part because her father (Charlie) was a former Sailor.

‘‘He met my mom (Sheila) in Newfoundland when he was in the Navy. Now he’s a police officer and my mom is a dispatcher for Prince William County,” she said in pointing out the need for her family to rise early in the day for school and work.

NJROTC was established by Public Law in 1964, found in Title 10, U.S. Code, Chapter 102.

The program is conducted at accredited secondary schools throughout the nation, by instructors who are retired Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel.

The NJROTC curriculum emphasizes citizenship and leadership development, as well as maritime heritage, the significance of sea power, and naval topics such as the fundamentals of naval operations, seamanship, navigation and meteorology.

Classroom instruction is augmented throughout the year by community service activities, drill competition, field meets, flights, visits to naval activities, marksmanship training, and other military training. Uniforms, textbooks, training aids, travel allowance, and a substantial portion of instructors' salaries are provided by the Navy.

The program is intended to promote patriotism, develop informed and responsible citizens who maintain respect for constituted authority as well as develop personal honor, self-reliance, discipline and leadership. Students must maintain good grade averages to retain membership as well has healthy and drug-free lifestyles.

Schools sponsoring JROTC units must be fully accredited by states and enter into an agreement with the Navy to maintain unit enrollment specified in Department of Defense directives. For host schools with a total enrollment of 1,000 or more, the minimum figure is 100. Where schools have less than 1,000 students, the minimum is 10 percent of the total eligible school enrollment. New units usually meet this requirement by the second year of operation.

Employ appropriate numbers of properly certified Senior Naval Science and Naval Science Instructors. Two instructors are required up to a unit enrollment of 150.

Provide suitable safeguards for the government-owned property that is provided for use in the NJROTC unit. Such safeguards shall include, but not be limited to, coverage for loss and damage of the property (e.g., bonds, insurance, etc.).

Give no less than one full credit toward graduation for each academic year of NJROTC completed.