HOUSTON – March 9, 2018 – As the Westfield High School Army JROTC unit prepared for its official JROTC Program for Accreditation (JPA) visit on Friday, Cadet 1st Lt. and Battalion Commander Naisa Johnson was making sure no details were overlooked as cadets waited in formation for the uniform review.
“This is a huge deal,” said Johnson, who praised her experience in the JROTC for helping her deal with pressure. “I hope they will see how hard we’ve worked and the discipline in our cadets.”
The dozens of students showed little stress as a crew of eight Army recruiters moved among them with clipboards, asking them two questions each, while assessing their uniforms. The official JPA, held every three years, marks an important part of maintaining the unit’s accreditation and helps ensure continued federal funding. But it also offers an opportunity for cadets to show off their skills in the areas of leadership and public speaking, along with marching and drill team activities.
“They are going to be as ready as they can be,” said Westfield’s Sgt. First Class Warner Fields, who is one of the three JROTC instructors at the school. For him, the event marked the culmination of months of hard work and drills. “It’s discipline,” he said. “We teach them discipline and respect.”
On campus Friday to observe the inspection was Spring ISD Board Trustee Donald Davis, a retired U.S. Army officer as well as a former longtime director of the JROTC program at Westfield.
He was enthusiastic about what he had observed: “These cadets are marvelous,” he said. “They are a great bunch of kids.”
For Westfield High School Principal David Mason, the importance of the JROTC program doesn’t end with only the students it serves. He said the discipline and commitment displayed by the cadets impacts the entire school. “They model that throughout the building, throughout the day, throughout the year,” he said.
Student Malik Brown, now a cadet sergeant in the Westfield JROTC, said the program has a good reputation among others at the school. “I heard it was cool and I wanted to see what it’s about,” he said on his decision to sign up. “It’s helped me figure out what I want to do,” noting that he plans to attend university but is still trying to decide what to study.
He said he would encourage others to join: “It helps you get out of your comfort zone and deal with things you’re not sure about.”
That sentiment was echoed by Westfield’s senior army instructor, Maj. Charles Thompson. “With the JROTC program in general,” Thompson said, “and with events like today’s in particular, I always hope the students will gain added confidence in themselves and their abilities. That confidence carries over into their academics and other areas of their lives.”
Merl Fuchs, chief of JROTC Operations for the 5th Brigade out of Fort Sam Houston, was on hand Friday, along with Ken Teninty, to do the actual inspection and scoring. By the end of the event, Westfield was able to maintain its status as an Honor Unit with Distinction, demonstrated by exceptional performance in all areas of the program’s operation. That Yellow Star rating is the highest possible designation.
“If they get it,” Fuchs said of the honor, “it’s because they earn it.”