Marine Corps JROTC Expansion in DeSoto County Schools

Written by: Jim Ferguson, Chief Academic Officer for High Schools

Hoorah! Hoorah!  You are likely to hear those words while visiting Lake Cormorant High School and Olive Branch High School.  Hoorah is a commonly used greeting within the Marine Corps.  LCHS and OBHS opened brand new programs on January 6 and to that we should all say, “Hoorah!”

Master Sergeant Richard McCarty was hired as the Marine Instructor for Lake Cormorant High School.  He left a very successful program at Oxford High School to join us in DeSoto County.  His experience has already proven to be a huge asset in starting the program at LCHS.  Principal Rhonda Guice says, “We are very excited about the beginning of our Marine Corps JROTC program at LCHS.  I know that the program will make a positive impact in the future of our students.  In just the few days the program has been in place, I can already see the excitement in the students and the positive change in their attitudes.  Master Sergeant McCarty is doing an outstanding job with the 68 students enrolled in the program.”  LCHS currently does not have a Senior Instructor in place for the program.  The district will be looking this spring to hire someone to fill that position in the fall of 2014.

Olive Branch High School is equally excited to have opened their new program on January 6.  Chief Warrant Officer Paul Robinson was hired to fill the position of Senior Instructor.  He moved from the Atlanta area to join DeSoto County Schools.  First Sergeant Desiree LaChappelle was hired to fill the Marine Instructor position.  She moved from California to help lead our program.  Principal Allyson Killough is “extremely excited to announce that 61 cadets wore their new Marine Corps JROTC uniforms for the first time this week.  Each young man and woman walked a little taller and with a bit more pride, and I don’t think the boots had anything to do with it. Chief Warrant Officer Paul Robinson and First Sergeant Desiree LaChapelle have already shown this group of students what it feels like to belong to something bigger than themselves. I can’t be more proud to see lives changed in just a matter of a few days because of this incredible new program at Olive Branch High School!”

As anyone can see, Lake Cormorant High School and Olive Branch High School are extremely excited about JROTC.  As the former Principal of Horn Lake High School who helped implement the Marine Corps JROTC at Horn Lake, I know the difference the program can make in the lives of students and help change the culture of a high school.  I saw many students who were not connected to any organization become involved in campus life in high school.  As a result, the students’ morale and self-esteem was enhanced and grades began to improve.  The effects of being a Marine cadet spilled over into the other classrooms and hallways.  I witnessed students begin to understand the value of exercise and self-discipline.  Students learned leadership qualities that they did not know they possessed.  The Cadets became involved in the community and felt a sense of pride like never before.  As the Chief Academic Officer for High Schools, I anxiously await hearing the many positive reports that are sure to come from these new programs.  Hoorah!