The cadets in South Plantation High School’s Junior ROTC program work hard, and for many years, have been recognized as one of the top teams in the state. Now the hard work is paying off in a big way: the program is the only JROTC team in Florida invited to attend the annual D-Day commemoration ceremony in Normandy, France, from June 3rd through June 10th this year.
"This is beyond exciting, I mean, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, my fellow classmates,” said Jack McKeown, a senior at the school and a major in the JROTC program. “I mean, even just the plane ride, I’m excited about that!”
Talk about an awesome field trip! The journey to Normandy will be an adventure deep into history. The Kids from South Plantation will meet D-Day veterans and see the landscape where the war turned around for the Allies. They’re preparing now.
“They’re looking at everything they learn in their history classes as well as watching movies about D-Day and now they’re putting in perspective that this trip is a really big deal,” said Lt. Colonel Doug Fields, one of two JROTC teachers at the school.
“I’m gonna also try to teach the cadets what happened in World War II, make sure that they fluently know everything up to that pivotal moment when the allies invaded Normandy,” McKeown, a history buff, said.
His commander says the adults are thrilled by the honor, too.
“So right now the kids are out working hard, trying to raise funds to be able to go,” Colonel Fields said.
There it is, you knew there had to be a catch. The cadets have raised $55,000, but they still need another $30,000 for everyone to make the trip. They’re set up a crowd funding effort on their web page, www.paladinbattalion.wix.com/JROTC. The principal says the kids are worthy of public support.
“When Col. Fields came to me and told me that our cadets were selected for this honor I was speechless and just so proud, they’ve worked so hard,” said principal Christine.
She says JROTC is often misunderstood by the public as being a military recruitment program, but it isn’t. Henschel says it teaches students values such as leadership, citizenship, integrity, respect, and honor.
“Since I joined ROTC, it’s changed my whole aspect, practically the way I live, it taught me leadership values, loyalty, honor, trust, and being truthful,” McKeown said.
The cadets learn skills that make them better people, better students, and better citizens. Now they’re hoping the citizens of South Florida will march in line behind them, and send a new invasion force into Normandy: the South Plantation High School cadets.