Reynolds’ best kept mystery: JROTC


Photo provided by Wesley Driscoll

The Reynolds battalion marching and calling cadences during the downtown Veterans Parade.

Emelia Merrick, Editor-in-Chief

Every student has their strong suit. Whether it’s academics, arts, sports, or life skills, it’s hard to find a class in Reynolds that fits all the criteria to meet your individual needs. Except it’s not as hard as you’d think… RJ Reynolds offers the JROTC (Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps) program that tailors to students as individuals. JROTC is taught and led by Sergeant Joaquin Bethea and Major Wesley Whitaker, who prioritize the students’ interests when planning curriculum, events, and activities. 

    “In our program, we do college tours, trips, and we center our curriculum around the students’ interests. It’s really whatever you’re interested in; our program tailors to you versus the other way around,” Whitaker said. “All of our cadets are pretty outstanding. We have people who fire professionally with air rifles, people on sports teams, academic teams. So many collectively do so many great things.”

    Students’ hard work and involvement in JROTC this year have led to numerous accomplishments. Sophomore and Cadet First Lieutenant Weasley Driscoll is one of JROTC’s younger members but has already impacted the program. As the JROTC Air Rifle Team Commander, Driscoll has been able to lead the team to success.

    “On our Air Rifle team, we have been known for being in the bottom of the barrel, but this year we are making a big turnaround. In our last tournament, we made it to the top ten,” Driscoll said.

    Along with the Air Rifle Team, JROTC has various sports and academic teams. JROTC also goes on college visits during school hours, attends service projects, and competes in sporting events with Olympians. 

    “As a whole, we have attended nursing homes for Veterans Day, marched downtown during the Veterans Day parade, welcomed veterans in the Greensboro Airport, attended Appalachian State University and NC State University,” Driscoll said. “We’ve also received a certificate of appreciation from the Forsyth County veterans treatment court for ongoing community support, and we have presented the colors at many school events.”

    JROTC is an incredible program that helps students reach their fullest potential here at RJR. So, where’s the catch? Why doesn’t everyone take JROTC? It’s likely that before reading this article, you didn’t know JROTC had an academic team or did ACT and college prep. Senior Yarixel Rayes, a Cadet First Lieutenant and S1 Assistant, believes that people assume it’s strictly military based. 

    “JROTC has a stigma around it, that all we do is push teenagers into joining the military or that we are strict and harsh,” Rayes said. “Those are all misconceptions about what we do.” 

   Similarly, Major Whitaker believes that if people understood the benefits of JROTC, there would be higher attendance in the program.

     “There is so much that we do,” Whitaker said. “If people knew more about what we did, I think more would sign up for the program. I think we are the best-kept secret on campus.”

    When students are asked why they didn’t join JROTC, most say they aren’t aware of it and their counselors never offered it. Others said they assumed it was “just a military thing.” So, now that you know the countless benefits and opportunities that JROTC provides, the next time you visit your school counselor to pick classes for the next year, consider JROTC.