Yokota High School Junior ROTC goes from “Green to Blue”
For Immediate Release — September 27, 2010 | Pacific
Public Affairs Officer: DoDEA Pacific Director’s Office | DSN: 644-5657
YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN — September 27, 2010 — After nearly two decades of achievement and service as an Army unit, the Yokota High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps began a new era as an Air Force unit during a special “Green to Blue” ceremony held Sept. 22.
Army Cadet Captain Jayson Hoffart relinquished command to Air Force Cadet Major Chelsea Northcutt during a stirring ceremony attended by students, parents, faculty, and school administrators. Also in attendance were local military leaders including Maj. Joseph Ericson representing the 374th Force Support Squadron and Command Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Caro representing the 374th Wing.
DoDEA Pacific Director Diana Ohman presided over the ceremony along with sophomore Cadet 2nd Lt. Emily Miller. Although Miller enjoyed being an Army Cadet under the previous unit, she said she is excited for the new possibilities as an Air Force unit, “When I heard about the change, I was really excited because my dad is Air Force and this will allow us to get more involved with the base.”
To complement the new Air Force unit, two newly arrived Air Force JROTC instructors joined the Yokota HS faculty this school year: Lt. Col. Gary Ardo as the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor and Master Sgt. Marc Renta as the Aerospace Science Instructor.
Ardo is a seasoned and student-centered Air Force master instructor returning to the Department of Defense Education Activity after teaching at La Quinta High School in La Quinta, Calif. for the past two years. He previously taught with DoDEA at Alconbury Middle/High School in the United Kingdom from 2004-2008.
Described by colleagues and students as a “dynamic” instructor, Ardo said students will transition well into the new unit, “The language is a little different and the Air Force philosophy places more emphasis on student leadership.” Ardo said he sees himself more as an advisor and looks forward to mentoring and supporting the Cadets in leading their new unit.
Renta also brings impressive credentials. Last school year, while teaching at Edgren High School on Misawa Air Base, he received an Outstanding Instructor Award designating him as one of the top 50 Air Force JROTC instructors out of a field of nearly 2000.
In April, a team of Edgren High School JROTC Cadets led by Lt. Col. Ted Ball and Master Sgt. Renta won the 2010 Air Force JROTC Academic Bowl championship held at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. The Cadets’ top-place finish had never been achieved before by a DoDEA JROTC unit.
The ceremony included all the fitting formalities such as the presentation of colors, speeches, flight recognition, and change of command, but concluded with a moving video tribute produced by one of the Cadets to commemorate the proud legacy of the outgoing Army unit and instructors. “It was very special” said Renta of the video, “the students were almost in tears.”
In reflecting on the experience, Yokota HS Principal Darrell Mood said “This is a proud day for Yokota High School.” He said the change strengthens the relationship with the community in general and the school-home partnership in particular, “This was a total team effort for the whole community.”
The change has already had an impact. Mood said enrollment has increased by over 25% and continues to grow. “The goal is to double enrollment and we’re on track to do that.” The new Air Force JROTC unit currently has over 100 students enrolled according to school officials.
About Air Force JROTC:
Air Force JROTC is part of the Jeanne M. Holm Officer Accession and Citizen Development Center, with headquarters at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The AFJROTC mission is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.
Aerospace science comprises 40 percent of the curriculum; leadership education, 40 percent; and physical fitness for life training 20 percent. Students who successfully complete AFJROTC classes are granted credit toward graduation. Classroom study includes heritage of flight, development of aerospace power, contemporary aviation, aerospace environment, human requirements of flight, aerospace vehicles, principles of aircraft flight and navigation, space programs, space technology, rocketry, propulsion, and aerospace industry.
Students are also introduced to military customs and courtesies, citizenship in the United States, first aid, wellness, health and fitness, basic drill and ceremonies, effective communications, management, human relations and life after high school. All uniforms and curriculum materials are provided by the Air Force. Supplemental materials are provided to enhance the curriculum.
To reinforce what is learned in the classroom, cadets participate in many outside activities such as field trips to military bases, aerospace facilities and industries, museums, civilian airports and other areas related to aerospace education.
Cadets also participate in parades, summer leadership schools, drill team competitions, color and honor guards, military balls and honorary academic groups. Many AFJROTC units complement the curriculum through the cooperation and resources of organizations such as NASA, Civil Air Patrol and the National Endowment for Financial Education.
AFJROTC instructors, including at least one retired officer and an NCO, are assigned to each unit. The officer is designated as the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor (SASI), and the NCO as the Aerospace Science Instructor (ASI).
About DoDEA Pacific:
DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 48 schools in DoDEA Pacific are comprised of more than 24,000 students and 3,100 full-time professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.