Army Unveils Project Pass, Junior Leadership Corps
(March 16, 2011)
|RADCLIFF, Ky. (Army News Service, March 11, 2011) -- Against a backdrop
of banners, students and a crowd of several hundred people, Army Chief
of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and other national leaders officially
unveiled Project PASS here today at North Middle School, one of the
first host sites.
Project PASS - Partnership for All Student
Success - is an umbrella for high schools that feature Junior ROTC and
middle schools with a new program called the Junior Leadership Corps for
seventh- and eighth-grade students. Casey and U.S. Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan heralded the initiative as a potential
life-changer for students in need of structure and motivation.
The program will go a long way in helping students "achieve whatever
their dreams may be," Casey said. "America is a lot of things today, but
America is still a country of dreams."
For nearly a century
Junior ROTC has taken armies of impressionable high school students
and pointed them in the right direction. Boys and girls who lacked
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. talks to students Friday
(March 11, 2011) at North Middle School in Radcliffe, Ky, as he officially launches Project PASS - Partnership for All Student Success - and the new Junior Leadership Corps for seventh- and eighth-graders.
and drive found discipline and determination on the way to becoming
better students and productive citizens.
The regimented program annually
translates in results: 96 percent of JROTC Cadets graduate high school,
and just as many go on to college.
National educators have long
recognized the benefits of JROTC, and some hope the new Army program
will also help transform young, troubled students into good ones; and
good students into great ones. They hope it will have as significant an
impact as JRTC has had, only on an even younger group.
Junior Leadership Corps targets students in seventh and eighth grade,
considered the time in a young person's educational development where
they start looking toward a career path or at dropping out.
challenges facing students who are part of Project PASS are not unique,
Duncan said. The difference for them is the opportunity they have
through the initiative.
"There are no good jobs for dropouts," he
said. "If we can provide opportunities before it's too late, I can
promise you they're going to be successful going forward."
County Schools is one of four districts to launch Project PASS. Other
ceremonies will be held in the coming weeks at school districts in
Christian County, Ky., Miami-Dade, Fla., Gwinnett County, Ga., and
Garden City, Kan.
The JLC actually started in January at two
northern Hardin County, Ky., middle schools: North Middle and James T.
Alton, and boasts an enrollment of 165 students.
The JLC, an
elective course, functions much like the high school program. Its
curriculum is patterned after JROTC; students wear uniforms weekly like
their JROTC counterparts and JLC students participate in
extra-curricular activities and community projects - like JROTC.
A PASS community coordinator will oversee day-to-day operations of the
Junior Leadership Corps and work with various organizations and
businesses locally to generate support and establish relationships with
Middle schools that feed into high schools with
Junior ROTC programs were chosen for PASS. The intent is to introduce
students to a program of leader and character development using
military-style techniques as early as seventh grade and allow them to
continue throughout high school, if they choose.
PASS is a
three-year pilot that is being funded by the National Association of
State Boards of Education.
Brenda Welburn, the association's
executive director, helped spearhead the program. PASS is designed in
part off her belief in the holistic teaching of children - academically,
socially and morally.
And it's a potential deterrent to quitting
school altogether, a rampant problem with far-reaching effects. In fact,
one student in America drops out of school every 22 seconds, she said.
"All students should realize their amazing potential," Welburn
said. "As my friend (Accessions Command commander Lt.) General
(Benjamin) Freakley says, 'We've got to get after it.' And Project PASS
aims to do that."
Before Friday's ceremony, Casey and Duncan took
time to visit with some of the JLC students inside a North Middle
classroom. They said they wanted to observe the class and get some
feedback on the course from the people PASS intends to reach.
Students told the two they have garnered more self-esteem and
confidence, and that their grades had improved because of an increased
focus on their studies.
As the nation's education secretary,
Duncan visits numerous schools throughout the year. He sees some where
the outlook is bleak and there are few signs of hope - in the school and
in the surrounding community.
But Duncan said he was encouraged
by what he saw Friday at North Middle.
"Because of you," he told
those in attendance, "I'm very hopeful of where this country is going."
Article and photo By Steve Arel
Accessions Command Public Affairs
Army News Service
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