Community service is a big part of Rome High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC pathway, recently moved to the system's new College and Career Academy.

“The JROTC program is a citizenship program,” said Col. Seaborn Whatley. “and we are all about making citizens of good character."

Whatley and Master Sgt. Keith Thrash, both former members of the USAF, are teaching the students how to commit to a goal, dedicate time to others, develop personal responsibility, work as a team, and lead the charge in a workforce driven by science and math related study.

While many students in the pathway intend to join the military, not all of them do.

The curriculum is focused on aerospace science, health and wellness and leadership education. Rome’s cadets also now have the opportunity to participate in air rifle target practice.

Additionally, the Rome City Schools CCA now houses a flight simulator that uses virtual reality to introduce cadets to flying planes. With the additional space, AFJROTC students can gather experience designed to give them a leg up in the competition when applying to college after graduation or heading into the workforce.

Whatley said cadets joined with the Exchange Club of Rome over the Christmas break to help with the local Toys for Tots program as part of their service commitment. They helped fill the stockings of thousands of children and distribute over 14,000 toys.

“The kids are always excited about the chance to serve and that really makes us proud of the work they do,” Whatley said, adding that the pandemic has given them good lessons on "how to adapt when things are not ordinary.” 

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