A Day in the Life of a JROTC Cadet

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

A typical day at Chicago Military Academy in Bronzeville begins by waking up at 6 am, or 5 am if you have to take the train. When you get to school, you can rack up demerits, which are penalties, for not wearing black hats, scarves or gloves—and this is not a good thing.

If you can, eat breakfast in the morning, go to your locker and put away all your things. Afterwards, go down to formation where all the students meet up.

Formation is when each company stands in a platoon or a group by JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) periods and grades. The Battalion Commander calls out different commands and you have to do them every morning. The band then plays the “Star Spangled Banner” and all the cadets salute to the American flag.

After formation, you attend eight class periods like any other high school, one being lunch. For lunch you go downstairs and do formation again to see who eats chow first, as they say.

One class every student has to take is JROTC and on Fridays, gym is during your JROTC period. You learn about having respect for yourself and others and you also learn about the history of the soldiers who fought in wars.

We also learn about what’s the best thing to handle different situations. For example, if you are not passing a class, the sergeants will help you learn how to maintain passing grades. They will see what works out the best for you. They are very helpful and concerned about the student’s problems.

The most important thing we learn is how to become a leader.

Yes, it’s a military school. We have to wear green shirts, dark green pants and black boots every day Monday-Thursday. On Friday, we wear our gym uniform, green shirt and jogging pants. People like to judge us by what they think and how we dress, but they never know because they aren’t in our shoes. At Chicago Military Academy, there are a lot of good and bad things.

To begin with, the Bronzeville Academy has a lot of advantages, like the uniform, learning about respect and gym once a week. The uniform is good to wear because you don’t have to worry about spending money on clothes for school or trying to find something to wear every day. Some students get tired of wearing the uniform, but having gym once a week, you can wear your gym uniform.

Having gym class on Fridays is a good thing because you have to run and exercise. Although its healthy, it’s good that you don’t have to do that every day because that can be frustrating, especially when you have lunch right before your gym period like me.

Another good thing is learning about respect and discipline for yourself and others. This is important to my community and because it shows the type of person I am and how I’ll react in different situations. It reflects where I came from and what type of people I surround myself with.

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