EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - For a group of students in Effingham County the uniform they wear to school represents something much bigger than themselves.
Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, gives students a taste of the military without enlisting.
But as WTOC found out it offers cadets much more than that, setting them up for success no matter which path they take.
“Just this morning they were in, seven o’clock, practicing,” said Petty Officer & South Effingham High School instructor Ross Johnson.
For students in South Effingham and Effingham County high school’s JROTC programs, it’s a passion.
“It’s a joy that I get, every day, I love doing it,” said ECHS senior Scottie Miller.
For many, of course, it’s a gateway into the military.
“I plan on right after high school enlisting into the Marine Corps,” said cadet Wright.
“Commissioning into the Air Force,” SEHS senior Dani Acuna.
For Miller, "enlisting into the United States Marine Corps.”
“Joining the Navy,” is the choice for ECHS senior Destiny Baylor.
“Go into the Air Force and become a pilot of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds,” adds fellow ECHS senior Makayla Purvis.
But it may surpirse you to hear this.
“I don’t plan on joining the military like a lot of my peers do,” said ECHS senior Gage Lavigne.
Or this from SEHS senior Konner Durrence.
“I want to go into finance and go into real estate investment.”
Maybe most shocking to some.
“We are not a pathway to recruit for the Marines, the Army, the Navy or the Air Force,” said ECHS Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Andrew Wichers.
In fact, their goal is much more simple.
“We want to see the kids get out there and be successful and thrive,” says Petty Officer Johnson.
No matter what path they choose.
“If you want to go to college if you want to go straight into the workforce. Pretty much no matter where you go, this program is going to help you be successful,” Lavigne says.
While students do learn some military-specific skills.
They also learn skills that can help them succeed in any facet of life.
“Showing up on time, presenting a professional appearance, behaving yourself for an interview,” Wichers says.
Perhaps most importantly shaping the lives of young men and women to be Skilled for Life.
“They have learned a lot about caring for other people. This is what really makes a community work, looking out for each other, caring for each other,” said Wichers.