JROTC Students Take Part in U.S. Space & Rocket Center's "Aviation Challenge"
Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) students from across the state, including approximately 120 Huntsville City Schools’ Students, are taking part in this week’s Aviation Challenge at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The students are engaging in simulations and activities that build leadership and life skills, including a simulated helicopter crash, digital flight training, a g-force experience, and a mock search and rescue mission that requires students to evade enemy forces. The week of events culminates in a campfire award ceremony where students have a chance to receive the coveted Top Gun medal.
When asked about the benefits of the Aviation Challenge and JROTC itself, Major Melissa Lacey says that it is “designed to be a citizenship and character building program.” She goes on to say that it also provides “a lot of opportunities to help students with their scholarship and college applications.” They build up experience with leadership, discipline, and put in a lot of community service hours. The Aviation Challenge program can also provide benefits to at-risk students. Major Lacy says, “I have a cadet who was challenging at school. I knew he was highly motivated, so I took a chance at putting him in a leadership position here, and he’s excelled.” That student went on to win a leadership award at the program.
Marissa Council, a rising 11th grader at New Century Technology High School, says that the week helps her “learn a lot about leadership.” While she recognizes that JROTC and the Aviation Challenge does help to create leaders, that isn’t all the program offers. She says that it also helps to provide “a place to fit in, and everybody in ROTC accepts you immediately whether you’re a Freshman entering the program, or a Senior entering the program.” Hannah White, another New Century student, adds that it has helped her be more confident. According to her, “meeting new people is a lot easier now that I have gained confidence through the program.”
The Aviation Challenge is offered at three stages based on age and grade level, with each stage becoming progressively more advanced. Students can register for the camp beginning in fourth grade.