Hebron Middle School students in sixth through eighth grades can voluntarily participate in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) Panther Corp Program.
Initiated last school year with 25 cadets by teacher Nancy Hutchins (formerly Nancy Coyne) with assistance from the North Bullitt High School JROTC program, the numbers have since doubled. The only qualification is enrollment at Hebron.
“North’s assistance is invaluable,” Hutchins said. “Major Kevin Clark, First Sergeant Eugene Siler and the North Bullitt cadets are teaching our students lessons in land navigation, physical training and drill.”
“Our cadets assist with the planning, training and coordination of Hebron’s JROTC club,” Siler explained. “Our cadets assist with the development of the training plans, and then serve as the primary instructors, teaching the Hebron students during club days at Hebron, which is Monday morning.”
In addition, Hebron cadets are learning confidence, leadership, teamwork and working various duties during each school day
“First Sergeant Siler, North Bullitt and Hebron cadets give input into club day activities such as proper flag folding, uniform inspection, reciting the cadet creed and using a compass,” she said. “Students are able to work with the North Bullitt cadets to learn basic military skills, communication skills, good citizenship, cooperation with others and self- reliance.”
“We try to mimic what JROTC at North will be like,” Siler said. “We mostly focus on formations, customs and courtesies, stationary drill movements, inspections and physical fitness training.”
Eighth grade cadets were invited to the Land Navigation field trip. Hebron cadets get the opportunity to participate in a JROTC class at North Bullitt. Hebron students that participate one year in JROTC club receive an orange and blue ribbon for their uniform when they join JROTC at North Bullitt.
Cadets are glad the Panther program was formed at Hebron.
“Since the sixth grade, I have wanted to be in the military,” said eighth grade student Madison Whiting. “JROTC Club has taught me respect, responsibility and leadership.”
Fellow cadet Nathan Spark joined JROTC to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Billy who is in the Army Infantry Corp.
“Billy risks his life for me and I’m here to do the same for you,” Nathan said. “Some people might think JROTC is nothing but someone screaming in your face. But it’s not. It’s about becoming a better person. In my years of JROTC, I have learned respect, commitment and responsibility.”
In the community, Hebron cadets have been involved in North Bullitt’s 9/11 ceremony, Hebron’s Veteran’s Day reception and Pearl Harbor 75th anniversary.
“After every community event that we do, more students inquire about JROTC,” Hutchins said. New roles in 2017 include flag detail, leading the daily pledge at school and cleaning areas in and around the school.”
Participants in the Panther program have an advantage should they decide to continue as cadets with North Bullitt’s JROTC unit.
“The students have a clear understanding of the structure and discipline which serve as the foundation of the North Bullitt JROTC program,” Siler noted. “One of the most powerful traits occurs when the Hebron JROTC club students become role models and outstanding examples for the school and community. The students at Hebron are becoming great leaders at such a young age. Their leadership footprint is evident throughout the entire Hebron school. We are all very proud of them each and every day.”
Recruitment includes prospective cadets viewing an informational film before making their decision. Even if a student becomes a cadet, the program may not be a good fit for them and they are allowed to leave.
Thanks to the burgeoning interest, Hutchins said teachers Katie Cottner and Eric Adams are assisting with the program.
Hebron cadets will visit one of their feeder elementary schools in 2017 for a recruitment field trip.
“They are going in uniform to Freedom to show students one of the programs they can join as they enter middle school,” Hutchins said.
Zoneton Middle School also feeds into North Bullitt. Siler said logistically, it is a little more difficult to get to Zoneton, but cadets are working on a plan to incorporate a Zoneton club and a NB JROTC footprint in Zoneton as well.
Panther Corp Cadets are Hannah Borders, Jordan Durbin, Keira Ezell, Crystal Johnson, Kaylen Bratcher, Kyle Callahan, Angel Locke, Summer Luttrell, Hunter Mudd, Randy Riley, Sianne Rivas, Hope Sparks, Madison Whiting, Anthony Thompson, Quintin Beard, Hannah Capps, Zachary Carter, Brandon Cole, Anna Counts, Makayla Davis, Jonah Edwards, Abbigail Gabehart, Jacob Glass, Gwyn Grinestaff, Blake Harshfield, Seth Muncy, Allyssa Shelton, Hailey Sparks, Nathan Sparks, Kris Tomblin, Justin Sparks, Kylie Shope, Chris Okes, Mackenzie Morris, Derek Krieger, Destin King, Conner Harden, Hailey Ezell, Michael Duvall, Alex Curtsinger, Jonathan Cooksey, Madison Carley, Jeramiah Bratcher, Austin Bowman and Nolan Amburgey.