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Atten-TION students!: Memorial’s JROTC undergoes spring inspection

Port Arthur Memorial High School’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps held their military spring inspection this week to make sure all is ship shape.

Mike Hale, Selfridge Administration Center area manager, inspected students and the program’s financial records as part of a routine checkup. Hale is a supervisor that works for the JROTC.

“JROTC is a federal program,” Hale said. “The schools receive supplements from the federal government to pay for the JROTC programs. Where there is federal laws, federal regulation, federal dollars, there has to be some oversight.

“I do an oversight and compliance visit to check and make sure the federal dollars and resources are being properly utilized.”

Hale said he checks to make sure uniforms are being properly utilized and teachers are instructing students how to wear them correctly along with checking the curriculum. Hale also inspected financial documents.

The inspector tested the students’ clothes, knowledge and drills in front of parents and Port Arthur Independent School District staff.

“The students did really good,” Hale said. “This unit has really done great things. Chief (John) Martin has been an instructor here at the program since it started at this high school and has done a great job with these young men and women.”

Hale asked each student questions they should know, such as Order of the Sentry, chain of command and other information about the program, Martin said.

“They also had to know marching,” Martin said. “That’s why we had the drill aspect. We have to do in-place drills as well as marching. There is also an honorary Pass in Review, honoring the officer that is doing our inspection.”

After answering questions, students performed a series of drills including marching, a performance by the unarmed drill team and a rifle drill.

Martin said he is proud of the way his student performed.

“There is a lot of information to remember,” he said. “If you watch, they did it all on their own, with little instruction.”

The pressure can be difficult to deal with as one student needed to take a seat and get some water and fresh air.

“He was a little nervous,” Martin said. “That comes with not used to being in front of people like that and being asked questions. Some kids have anxiety. We’ll practice and he’ll get past that. Once you get more comfortable with the information and retaining it, the anxiety will go away.”

Later, students gathered around Hale, who gave seniors a message.

“Whether you are going to get a job, join the military, start a family of your own or some combination of those things, I feel confident that you will leave here prepared for success. The skills you developed here like leadership, self-confidence and self discipline will help you. Anything is possible when you add two things — hard work and perseverance.”

Hale encouraged seniors to work hard, retain their values and never give up.

“I want to say thank you, not for what you have done, but for what you will do,” he said.

Hale challenged younger students to embrace their time in high school to “build” themselves.

“You want to put as much knowledge in your head as possible,” he said. “Knowledge in your head is money in the bank. Some day someone will pay you a paycheck for what you know to do. If you want it to be a big paycheck, you need to know a lot and how to do a lot. This is your chance.”