PINON -- At the beginning of the school year, the Pinon High School U.S. Army Junior ROTC Eagle Battalion staff began to discuss the actions the battalion should take on the terms of service learning projects.
A service-learning project is much like community service. The only difference is that the students create, plan and complete the project. The service-learning project is a requirement by the U.S. Army for Junior ROTC programs nationwide. It is required that a Junior ROTC unit conducts two service-learning projects in one school year.
As the planning continued, the Eagle Battalion staff created a multitude of service learning projects. The battalion staff along with the Junior ROTC instructors, and cadets decided that this year they would do something unique that would benefit the Navajo Nation, Pinon community, Pinon Unified School District #4 and its younger students.
The instructors, the battalion staff, and cadets came to the conclusion that they should participate in the Adopt-A-School program. The school the Eagle Battalion decided to adopt was Pinon Elementary School.
"This Junior ROTC program is accomplishing great things that are absolutely unbelievable," said 1st Sgt. Rufus J. Moore, who is the Senior Army Instructor for the Pinon High School U.S. Army Junior ROTC program. "I am so proud of our cadets, it brings tears to my eyes."
"These cadets are doing things that have not been previously accomplished and also things many Junior ROTC programs have not even thought about. This program is definitely giving this district and the native people their money's worth and something to be proud of."
The Eagle Battalion initiated the Adopt-A-School Mentorship program with the Pinon Elementary School in October. The Adopt-A-School program is a project in which the Junior ROTC Program assists the elementary school in any or all activities requested by the elementary school staff/faculty and students.
The mentorship program provides positive role models, to help teachers tutor their students in reading, writing, mathematics, art and physical education. The U.S. Army Junior ROTC Eagle Battalion also assists the students in their areas of academic struggles by providing a cadet as a personal tutor.
"We are blazing a trail for other Junior ROTC programs to follow," said Sgt. 1st Class Miguel A. Rodriguez, who is the Army instructor. "You know when you are in a great work environment when your boss allows you the freedom to express your ideas, opinions and suggestions, which create unique programs and outstanding opportunities for kids of the Pinon Unified School District #4, this community, and, of course, the people of Navajo Nation."
Prior to starting the mentorship program all the Junior ROTC cadets received a class and awarded certification by the Elementary School Intervention Cadre Supervisor Miss Beth Borland. She discussed areas in teacher expectations; each grade level's daily work schedules, grade breakdown and student conduct policies followed by a question and answer session.
Cadet Staff Sgt. Jimmy Keith, a second year cadet, stated, "I came back into this Junior ROTC program especially to be part of the great change. When they first told us about this program, I was unsure. However, after the first day of mentoring I felt a deep, warm feeling in my heart, and I knew that I was doing something great for my people and, specifically, for my new little friends."
Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Shawna Kee, a second year cadet, said, "It feels great to help teach our younger Navajo generation."
Cadet Luthario Begay, a first year cadet, said, "Well, it feels great to be in this Junior ROTC program. It also feels great to be a true role model, someone for these little kids to look up to. Overall, I think that they are going to benefit so much from this mentorship program."
Cadet Private II Tatumn Young said, "It is really good and I greatly enjoy teaching our little ones. I feel I was being a real leader, a positive role model in other words, someone for them to look up to."
Cadet Cpl. Marcus Segay stated, "It was very good. I felt great and very proud to help out the kindergarten students."
Pinon Elementary Principal Gerae Peten explained the Eagle Battalion's role.
"We call the Junior ROTC cadets, instructional assistants who work with our teachers, in presenting, helping and nurturing these young minds," she said. "The instructional support provided by the Junior ROTC cadets to our kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the Pinon Unified School District, helps to advance the educational program and increase student's character development."
Petan said her students look forward to the Junior ROTC's weekly visits.
"Our teachers appreciate their additional help, with students whom are experiencing academic difficulty," she said. "We all look forward to increased student achievement with the Junior ROTC programs involvement. On behalf of my staff and faculty we sincerely thank the Instructors and Cadets for adopting our school as their service learning project."
Anyone interested in more information on the U.S. Army Junior ROTC program, or seeking assistance with an upcoming event or ceremony, should feel free to call the Pinon High School U.S. Army Junior ROTC Department at 928-725-2456.
(Cadet 2nd Lt. Lacy R. Tom is U.S. Army Junior ROTC S-2 Publicity Officer at Pinon High school.)