FREEPORT, N.Y. - Student after student, row after row, stand with their hands behind their backs, and their feet spread 20 inches apart at a 45 degree angle. They are clean, sharp, intense, yet silent. They are the Freeport High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
The NJROTC program is an elective offered at Freeport High school that hosts over 244 students. These students wear the naval uniform once a week in accordance to naval regulations and learn about naval traditions and knowledge in a class called Naval Science.
“Every other year the program invites a guest inspector,” said Lt. Col. Maxx Godsey, 1st Marine Corps District executive officer and Bend, Oregon, native. “Today, we did an inspection program for a couple of hours and then the students held an assembly for parents, school faculty and school board members.”
Godsey was invited to be the guest inspector by retired Marine Corps Maj. Donald Moore, senior naval science instructor at Freeport High School and Elvaston, Illinois, native.
“Our main focus isn’t to have cadets enlist into the military, our focus is to teach leadership and create better citizens” said Moore.
Such leadership and character development could be observed in the way the cadets carried themselves throughout the day’s events.
“I can see it (leadership) in everything the cadets do,” said Godsey. “They really did run the show. They were trained by their instructors well and they really took responsibility for their own program.”
Among the students present, were those who held leadership billets and made sure the unit ran smoothly.
“Today, we have our parade where the NJROTC leadership is going to take charge of the unit and execute different drill movements,” said Desiree Parada, Alpha Company commander for NJROTC. “The board of education is showing up as well as parents and we’re presenting ourselves to our town to show them what we do in this program.”
The students had been preparing all semester for this day.
“This is like our super bowl,” said Nicholas Mclean, NJROTC commanding officer and Freeport, New York, native. “It’s our time to shine. We all get to come together in our uniforms and show our community what we’re about.”
The event brought together active service members and military veterans from all branches of the service.
“I was not there to push recruiting,” said Godsey. “I was really there to give support and promote these kinds of training programs that really instill the military virtues that we’re looking for such as honor courage and commitment.”