The Arlington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps received an “exceeds standards” rating during an October evaluation. (Contributed photo)

The Arlington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps received an “exceeds standards” rating during an October evaluation. (Contributed photo)

Nearly grounded, Arlington’s Air Force JROTC program now soars

The Arlington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps received an “exceeds standards” rating during an October evaluation — less than a year after the program faced an uncertain future.

Last school year, there were only 77 cadets in the program, and the Air Force informed the school that the program would close because it didn’t meet the 100-cadet minimum. Arlington Superintendent Chrys Sweeting sent a letter to the Air Force asking for more time to recruit cadets. The Air Force extended the deadline to this fall.

Thanks to an outreach effort, the program has grown to 103 cadets.

“Looking at where we were last year at this time, it’s remarkable that we were able to receive exemplary scores from the inspection in October,” Principal Duane Fish said.

Maj. Mike Blue, the program’s instructor, and ROTC families reached out to middle school students and freshmen, and also recruited students from the Lakewood School District, which doesn’t have a Junior ROTC program. In addition, Blue visited science classrooms to encourage students to take “Science of Flight,” an Air Force Junior ROTC science class.

“It’s definitely been a total team effort,” Blue said. “We felt a true sense of urgency. We focused on what makes JROTC unique, fun and exciting, and then brought those ideas to the forefront of our outreach efforts.

“The new cadets this year are outstanding,” he added. “In under 45 days, 52 new students completed all their requirements to earn the right to wear an Air Force JROTC uniform. The headquarter’s inspector said it was an amazing effort moving forward for our long-term future at Arlington High School.”

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