NORTH FORSYTH — While many students enjoyed their summer break with vacations and relaxation, members of the North Forsyth High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps were hard at work.
North’s JRTOC trained at an Army-Marine Corps leadership camp, at the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot on Parris Island, S.C., and at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Fla.
This commitment preceded the group being honored with the Marine Corps Reserve Association Outstanding Unit Award.
The award is the highest designation that a Marine JROTC unit can receive. According to North’s Eve Phillips, the school’s unit — the only such program in Forsyth County — has won it four out of the past five years.
Adding to the honor, Cadet Maj. Haley Hubbard was selected to receive the Legion of Valor Bronze Medal for superior achievement. This is the highest individual award a Marine JROTC cadet can receive. A North cadet has won the medal four years in a row.
Receiving these awards basically means the program is ranked as the best Marine JROTC unit in the Southeast and that Hubbard is the best Marine cadet in region, made up of 57 programs, said Maj. Mac Kelly, senior Marine instructor at North.
Kelly and the program’s two other instructors — Master Gunnery Sgt. Randy Merritt and Gunnery Sgt. Jack Snook — are retired Marines. They all expressed enthusiasm about the leadership opportunities afforded cadets and are “optimistic that the program can be beneficial to even more students.”
“The program is about helping students develop their maturity and self-discipline and being prepared to leave high school with an increased level of confidence and self-worth,” Snook said.
“A new JROTC building is now under construction at North that will enable us to have a positive impact upon even more students in the future.”
North’s program is in its 20th year. During that time, it has “established itself as a model for other schools.
The Rifle Team routinely earns the right to compete in both regional and national marksmanship matches. The Drill Team is nationally ranked.
The Color Guard averages more than 50 flag presentations annually and the Raider Challenge Team — for physical fitness — is the only Marine JROTC team in the state.
The program currently has nine graduates in college on scholarships or U.S. Service Academy appointments. It has consistently had at least one graduate at the U.S. Naval Academy since 2000.
Phillips said the program also boasts more than 15 graduates who have gone into law enforcement, five emergency medical technicians, four high school educators and more than 200 military personnel.