Norcross to launch Gwinnett's first Army JROTC

NORCROSS — Norcross will soon become the first Gwinnett County high school to offer the Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

Additionally, Pinckneyville and Summerour middle schools in the Norcross cluster will be participating in a pilot of the Junior Leadership Corps program.

Both programs, which focus on leadership and character development in students, will begin in January, Gwinnett County Public Schools officials announced Wednesday.

“The addition of the JROTC and JLC programs in the Norcross cluster is a boon to our cluster,” Norcross High principal Jonathan Patterson said. “Our cluster already offers the International Baccalaureate Program. The addition of JROTC and JLC will open additional doors for students and will help enhance the culture of success that permeates our schools.”

Currently, Gwinnett County Public Schools offers five JROTC programs — Air Force units at North Gwinnett and Shiloh, Navy units at Duluth and Peachtree Ridge, and a Marine unit at Parkview.

Maj. Bruce Bonds, North Gwinnett’s Air Force JROTC instructor, said Norcross is joining a long and outstanding tradition in Gwinnett County Public Schools.

“With its emphasis on citizenship, scholarship and service to the school and the community, JROTC will be a valuable addition to the curriculum at NHS,” he said. “I encourage all NHS parents and students to consider JROTC as an elective course for next semester.”

Similar to the JROTC program offered at the high school level, the Junior Leadership Corps curriculum focuses on developing young people’s leadership skills, while also teaching self-management, health and problem solving skills. The mission of the JLC is to inspire young people to set a course for success by teaching students to be self-reliant and motivated to complete their education and to be successful, productive citizens.

Middle school principals Wanda Yeargin and Dorothy Jarrett said their schools are a good fit for this pilot.

As the principal of Pinckneyville Middle, Yeargin said she feels JLC will be a tremendous complement to the school’s Middle Years IB Program.

“Through the IB program, our students are becoming aware of the importance of giving back to the community. Teams of students complete a community service project each year which makes our students more aware of how they can help others, how they can contribute to the community, and how they want to live in relation to others,” she said. “Likewise, enhancing leadership skills and engaging students in community service are key aspects to the Junior Leadership Corps.”

Jarrett said student cadets also will experience an array of extracurricular activities not otherwise available to middle school students as they participate in drill, academics, physical fitness, leadership, orienteering, honorary student boards and field trips.

“These types of activities will add to our students’ middle school experience, laying a foundation that will help ensure their success in high school and in life,” she said.

Each school’s JLC will consist of about 25 seventh-grade and 25 eighth-grade students. Applications are currently available to students and families. As there are limited opportunities for participation during this roll out year, interested students should return their applications by Tuesday. Based on the number of applicants, each school will hold a lottery to randomly select participants.

Students who participate in JLC are not required to enroll in JROTC at Norcross. There is no obligation to join the military for students who participate in JLC or JROTC.