NJROTC: keeping leadership and community strong


Kenadi Browne, Editor-in-Chief

As the year comes to a close, Liberty’s NJROTC (National Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program reflects significant change due to new leadership and structure under Captain John Deehr.
“Captain has really created this motivation for students to actually be a part of the program, to be accountable for ourselves and for our leadership,” senior cadet Lieutenant Commander Jenafer Johanson said. “That’s been really exciting because it’s getting a lot more people into the program that we didn’t have before.”
This is important, Johanson and Deehr say, because the program is on probation. To come off probation, NJROTC would need 100 cadets enrolled, and if they do so, they are guaranteed two more years of the program. If they don’t meet the requirements, the program will be removed from Liberty, and will go to another school. There are currently 98 cadets enrolled for next year.
“The unit as a whole has gotten a lot stronger overall,” Deehr said. “I’ve seen a lot of growth in the cadets this year, so they’ve all gotten stronger and closer, which helps recruiting, because the kids that are in the unit really like being in the unit.”
There are many leadership opportunities in the program. Each class, or platoon, is led by one student, who teaches and leads the other students in the class. Students also planned and led the Navy Ball, which is a traditional celebration of the military and its accomplishments.
“You can fail—and it’s okay to fail—in that class,” senior Commanding Officer Sam Petersen said. “You learn from failing, and that’s kind of the best way to learn and become a better leader.”
Johanson agrees.
“I’m hoping with our new teacher and this new atmosphere that we’re trying to build, ROTC will transition back to what the program was originally designed for,” Johanson said. “It’s been really important to me throughout high school because I’ve gained a lot of personal growth and leadership in this program. And that’s what’s so cool about ROTC, there’s just room for slow, personal growth, and connections that make you comfortable, that even in a close and really inclusive school setting you wouldn’t normally find.”
Johanson says that she values the NJROTC program so much because of this inclusiveness, but also because of the friendships she’s made, and strongly encourages students to join.
“What’s really exciting and memorable is always the little stuff,” Johanson said. “For example, we call leadership training ‘BLT.’ Then there’s all of our parties that we’ve had together. Really, it’s just when all the students get together and we have a good time and we bond and we laugh and that’s when we become a family.”