Students Fight to Keep Air Force ROTC Program

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

March 23, 2006

Albemarle County could be doing away with their Junior Air Force ROTC program. It's a topic the school board will review tonight, but students in the program say they have many reasons why it shouldn't be cut.

Tory Maupin joined Monticello High School's Air Force Junior ROTC program four years ago as a freshman. She says it's changed her life.

"I was just really quite, and now I would like to say that I’m a pretty good leader and I hope that's true," said Maupin.

While the program may reap positive effects, school leaders say the enrollment numbers just aren't as high as they would like. That's why at Thursday night's meeting they'll review whether or not to keep it.

"The Air Force set a goal of getting one hundred [air force] students enrolled by last fall, right now we have an average of about 37 students participating, so one of the questions is, is that enough to keep this program going?," said Brian Wheeler of the Albemarle County School Board.

Monticello started the program in 2001, it's the only one of its kind in Albemarle County and Charlottesville and students say they would be disappointed to see it go.

"I think it instills discipline, leadership, responsibility, integrity definitely. That's drilled in your head from the time you're a freshman so those are really important qualities in anyone," said Maupin.

"All we try and do is guide them, mentorship them, and basically lead them and see what happens from there," said ROTC teacher Master Sgt. Arnold Karp

Maupin along with several other cadets and teachers are taking their concerns to the school board meeting. By banding together they hope the school board will recognize its value.

"It's changed me so much and I love the program and just have to stand up for it," said Maupin.

School leaders say their hoping to make a final decision on whether or not to keep the program during Thursday’s meeting.

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