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Is the "New Kid" in Middle School the US Army?

Adding someone (or something) new to the mix in a Middle School excites students who are transitioning into their teen years. What if that new element was the US Army?

A Wichita, Kansas school district offers middle school programs that are based on the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) curriculum. Now some top Army officials are wondering if they could be a model for other similar schools nationwide.

The Army is working with the National Association of School Boards on a so-called JROTC-plus program, according to an article on the Army Times website. The program would use the high school JROTC curriculum as a basis for a middle school program. The Army intends to fund a pilot program next school year.

Army JROTC director Col. John Vanderbleek personally visited Wichita to see their district's program. He explained to the Associated Press: "We want to reach students at that age before they make decisions that put them at risk."

JROTC supervisor and retired Army Col. Robert Hester established Wichita's JROTC twelve years ago to connect students to school and encourage them to graduate. "Being a good cadet means being a good cadet in school," he said in an Associated Press story.

Wichita's program is not unique. The Chicago Public Schools JROTC site posts 21 middle school programs. Their Middle School Cadet Corps Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and the Middle School Cadet Corps Curriculum [Student Text, Lesson Plans, Lesson Slides, and Exercises] are available for download.

YouTube member sketerat581 posted a video of photos that, he states, show "ROTC at my middle school." That slideshow of images is located at the top of this post.

The program is not without its critics. Some posters in the discussion of the middle school JROTC at consider middle school students to be inappropriately young and susceptible to "military brainwashing" or indoctrination. Some wondered: Could military recruitment be a possible subscript to the program? A few suggested that the program unfavorably connotes the child soldiers utilized in certain developing nations. Another expressed concern about a "glorification of 'war' and 'warriors.'"

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