Ferriday’s new JROTC class drills on their expectations

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2003

FERRIDAY, La. &045; Company hut Š Atten, hut Š Ready, hut &045; these are some now familiar phrases for 100 students at Ferriday High School.

This year, the school began an Army JROTC program, or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp. Instructor SFC Albert Johnson came from Fayette, where he led a JROTC program for a little more than eight years. Johnson said he knew it was time to leave that group and start another one when the students there could &uot;do it all by themselves.&uot;

The Ferriday class started the first day of school this year. Johnson said some students wanted to bolt after the first few days, but most decided to stay once they began. Some students even asked to join a few days into the class.

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&uot;When I first came here Š I came in forceful,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;They didn’t want to conform to that.&uot;

The classes contain freshmen through seniors, but since it is the initial year, everyone is on the same level. However, next year the students who continue in the course from this year will be a level two, and newcomers will start at level one.

The first nine weeks, Johnson said the students mostly work on drills and then move into their books to learn why he taught them the things he did and the way he did about leadership and other values.

Š Dress right, dress

Thursday was the first day the cadets were in uniform and the first time they all marched together.

With each class, he went through a uniform inspection.

&uot;All of you all look good,&uot; Johnson told the class of their first day in uniform.

And he does inspect them.

&uot;Believe it or not, that’s what they want you to do is tell the how good they look,&uot; Johnson said.

Š Ready, march

Even when yelling a cadence or an order to the students, before he gives the order or sometimes between the orders, Johnson will tell the students a little hint about what they should be doing.

For instance, before yelling, &uot;Dress right, dress,&uot; he tells the students not to forget to turn their heads to the right.

It is still all about teaching.

He is a teacher with a class full of students ready to learn the subject.

&uot;On a forward march, keep your distance,&uot; he told the students before sending them marching down the road between the school and the stadium Thursday afternoon.

And there are still many of these pauses for personal instruction, even during marching.

After all, it has only been three weeks since they began learning to march.

&uot;They surprised me,&uot; Johnson said of the entire group Thursday. &uot;They caught on good for that amount of time.&uot;

Not only do they march, but the students sing and yell cadences as well.

&uot;1 &045; Can’t hear you; 2 &045; Little bit louder; 3 &045; Pick your feet up; 4 &045; Put ’em down now.&uot;

&uot;Isn’t it great?&uot; said Ferriday High School Principal Debra Harris of the students marching to and fro.

Harris said she goes outside to watch the classes learning to march many times. Thursday she brought her camera with her.

‘We like it here, we love it here, we finally found a home Š’

As the students sing this song while marching, many have smiles on their faces and have found a place that may feel like home or comfort to them.

&uot;I like it,&uot; cadets Krystal Anderson and Brandon Woods said in unison. Both also saying they are thinking of joining the military.

&uot;I’m just excited about this class,&uot; Anderson said. &uot;It’s good for Ferriday school. We’ve never had anything like this.&uot;

Both students also called cadences Thursday afternoon for the whole group of cadets.

&uot;When you call cadences and just listen to everyone following you, it makes you feel real big, somebody important,&uot; Anderson said.

Calling cadences is not all these students are taking with them from this class.

&uot;It teaches us discipline,&uot; Anderson said. &uot;And we can put some of the stuff we learn in here into everyday life.&uot;

The main thing, it focuses on is discipline and self-respect, Anderson said. &uot;And I think that will help us as a school.&uot;

Johnson said many of the students come in introverted and with no self-confidence.

&uot;That is what this class is supposed to bring,&uot; he said.

Gaining confidence they are, in themselves and the others in the classes as they prepare to march in the homecoming parade on Oct. 10 and hopefully march in Alcorn’s homecoming parade Oct. 11.

The color guard will present the flags at the first home football game tonight.

&uot;I think we’re ready,&uot; Woods said.

Added Anderson: &uot;I’m ready to show off.&uot;

Š Left face

Students have changed their minds about the class, and the class is changing them.

&uot;I think this class is going to teach me to control my anger,&uot; Woods said, and also to &uot;lead by example, to listen to others and to follow before I lead.&uot;

Not only does this class teach leadership but also loyalty, discipline, self-discipline and honor. It is also teaching individuals other things more personal to them.

The motto of JROTC, Johnson said, is to motivate young people to be better citizens.

They are learning one step at a time.