Spring High School Navy JROTC Cadet Regimental Commander Courtney Lundquist, right, oversees the regimental inspection.
HOUSTON – March 6, 2017 – At Spring High School, Navy JROTC is an option that several hundred students choose each year, making it one of the largest programs in the nation for the last five years. The 2016-17 school year is no exception. Spring High recently received official word that its Navy JROTC program is not only the fifth largest open-enrollment program in the United States but also the largest program in Texas. According to the Navy’s official count, the program’s enrollment this year is at 417 students.
“Our Spring High Lion Regiment has earned the status of regiment for the past five years due to enrollment numbers that have been as high as 525,” said Captain James Boyer, lead instructor. “Only programs with over 350 students enrolled are given the status of regiment.”
Boyer attributes the school’s success to two factors: The Spring Independent School District is located in an area that is traditionally patriotic with strong support for the military – and scholarships. He said students who have graduated from the program at Spring High School have received nearly $37 million in scholarships since 2005 alone.
“There is no other JROTC program in Texas that even comes close to that amount,” Boyer said.
Those scholarships don’t come without a lot of hard work from both the students and program instructors. Boyer has been known to spend an entire day working with cadets on earning scholarships that includes a trip to a university campus for interviews and a visit to the admissions office.
Boyer said he and his staff don’t just focus on military scholarships, although they have seen a number of their cadets accepted at both the Naval and Coast Guard academies as well as West Point. They also work with Texas A&M University, University of Texas, Prairie View A&M, University of Houston and Northeast Louisiana State, to name a few.
“We focus more on Texas schools because they usually offer more money to our students,” Boyer said.
Cadet Regimental Commander Courtney Lundquist has applied to the U.S. Naval Academy and is waiting to hear whether she has been accepted. Meanwhile, she keeps busy in her leadership role developing the skills she and her regiment need to be responsible citizens and lifelong learners. She thinks the program is successful and attracts students because, for the instructors, it isn’t about them, but about the students. They let the students take charge.
“The instructors, first off, they really guide us, but really, we run the program,” Lundquist said. “If we mess up, the instructors are there to help us get back on our feet. We take pride in that, and it really teaches us.”
Focusing on college as the end goal, Boyer says he and his team constantly push students to take their SATs and ACTs and look at schools and their requirements early in the application process, and meet deadlines. In addition, they encourage cadets to take advantage of study programs that are offered to help them. He and his team work over the summer break, and students are welcome to come in to work on their physical fitness and prepare for the coming academic year.
Lundquist has been in the program since her freshman year, having signed up while still an eighth grader at Twin Creeks Middle School.
“My freshman year, I would have never thought that I would be where I am today,” Lundquist said.
Recently she had the opportunity to interview one-on-one with the CEO of a Houston international company about providing a scholarship to the Lion Regiment. If the request is filled, it would provide scholarship funds to all eligible seniors who apply, supporting the regiment’s focus on post-secondary opportunities. At the same time, for Lundquist, experiencing her first interview with someone of that caliber was a rare learning opportunity.
“They teach us that we are always learning. Basically, we never quit learning,” Lundquist said.