Ocean City Today
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Cadets join Wreaths Across America

By Kara Hallissey | Jan 18, 2018
Courtesy of: Steve Sisk Forty cadets in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) boosters at Stephen Decatur High School attended Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery last month.

(Jan. 19, 2018) About 40 cadets in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) boosters at Stephen Decatur High School attended Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery last month.

“It was important for the cadets to see firsthand the true meaning of the sacrifice that military members have given for our country,” Commander Steve Sisk said. “They loved it and it gave them the chance to go out and see things they don’t experience every day by being in Washington D.C. with more than 75,000 people, memorializing veterans through a dedicated effort.”

The annual Wreaths Across America ceremony commemorates fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetery in addition to veterans’ cemeteries nationwide and overseas by placing wreaths on their graves during the holiday season.

“We try to instill in kids the sacrifices people have made in this country,” Sisk said. “We will try and do this as an annual event and have them participate in Memorial Day events so we never forget our history.”

Currently, about 70 students are participating in the NJROTC program at Stephen Decatur High School, he said.

“It is important for the community to understand the goal is not to act as a recruiting tool [for the military], but to give these kids leadership and ethics skills, enhancing their ability to succeed in college and work,” Sisk said. “We want them to have the opportunity to join the military, but also develop day-to-day skills like interviewing for a job or survival skills to help them succeed in what they want to do.”

In addition, the program teaches fellowship and naval historical lessons through trips and activities. Funds will also provide scholarships for cadets. Earlier this school year, students in the program went to Norfolk, Virginia to tour an aircraft carrier and submarine. During their trip to Washington D.C. in December, they visited the National Air and Space Museum.

“Part of why we do this is so they are not sitting in class all day,” Sisk said. “They learn leadership skills from others who have accomplished specific things.”

Next month, NJROTC cadets are slated to take a trip to the naval academy and observe a legislative session in Annapolis.

“We want to build up the program, double the number of cadets and offer more to students participating,” Sisk said. “The [boosters] program needs to be ongoing. We can grow and offer scholarships for kids, ROTC college units and workmanship programs [and] send out information to parents. The benefits of being in the program are numerous.”

The Navy helps with funding when at least 100 students are enrolled. The school lost funding a few years ago, although the county makes a small contribution each year, Sisk said.

“We hope all kinds of folks make contributions,” Sisk said. “We are trying to grow the program and make it more attractive to students.”

Individual donations can be sent to: SDHS NJROTC at 9913 Seahawk Road, Berlin, Maryland, 21811.

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