Once every three years, fresh-faced high school cadets in US Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs line up with for a rigorous inspection, the Joint Program of Accreditation. It goes beyond an eagle-eyed senior military officer making sure every button is polished and every shoe shined. The evaluators review the entire program: service learning projects, continuous improvement programs, even firing questions about military knowledge at individual cadets as they stand in ranks at attention.
So you can imagine some of those cadets were a little nervous when the 5th Brigade, Cadet Command of the US Army showed up at Cleveland High School on 14 March 2017 to conduct the program’s first-ever inspection. And talk about passing with flying colors: they earned 95 out of a possible 100 points and recognition as an Honor Unit with Distinction. Only four percent of all high school Army JROTC units nationwide achieve this level annually, and it’s almost unheard-of for a battalion to earn this distinction at their first inspection. Senior 5th Brigade inspector, Juan Fuentes stated at the outbrief, "I have been conducting these inspections for 16 years and Cleveland is only the third program I have seen achieve HUD on their first try". The program's cadets are now authorized to wear a gold star above the right pocket until their next inspection in three years.
Cadets briefed the evaluators on their Service Learning Project which entailed constructing new and upgrading existing facilities at our local no-kill animal shelter, Watermelon Ranch. The staff also had to develop, execute and brief a Continuous Improvement Program project which centered on cadet retention. Additionally, the whole Battalion underwent an in ranks inspection where uniform and grooming standards were reviewed and cadet knowledge was tested.
The Battalion's command team consists of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Greg Barry who will join former Storm Battalion cadet, Taylor Fritz at the United States Air Force Academy this summer. Executive Officer, Cadet Major Jacob Clifford, who returns to the program for his senior year and Cadet Command Sergeant Major Devin DuBose who plans to attend Central New Mexico Community College after graduation. Cadet Lt. Col. Barry and Cadet Major Jacob Clifford are shown in the top photo along with Lt. Col. Jess Capel, and at left Lt. Col. Barry addresses the RRPS school board.
The unit's instructors are Lieutenant Colonel Jess Capel and Command Sergeant Major James Westover.