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Instilling Leadership, Respect Values In Elementary Students
by Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison - Japan
April 21, 2024

A group of middle school Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets aimed to instill the values of leadership and respect in elementary students during a visit with them at Lanham Elementary School on April 11, 2024.

As part of what they call their service-learning project, the cadets of Zama Middle High School’s Trojan Battalion came to Lanham Elementary School on Naval Air Facility Atsugi to mentor fourth and fifth graders there and teach them about various JROTC- and military-related customs and courtesies.

The most important aspect of the project is that the cadets hopefully gain something meaningful from it and learn the importance of service to others, said retired Lt. Col. Douglas Fields, the senior JROTC instructor

The cadets have interacted with middle schools for past projects, but this year was the first they had done so with elementary students, Fields said. By sharing with the younger mentees some of the things they have learned in JROTC, the cadets gain experience in a teaching and leadership role, while the students benefit from learning something new, he said.

“[The cadets] are now seeing the end result [of their project], and that is seeing the joy on the faces of the students,” said Fields. “I hope the cadets take a sense of pride from this.”

The cadets brought the students to their school’s flagpole to show them the proper way to raise and lower the U.S. and Japanese flags, and how to fold them. Cadet Master Sgt. Corban Olson, a sophomore, said she and the other cadets wanted to instill in the students the same respect for the flags the cadets are taught.

April 11, 2024 - Top - Zama Middle High School JROTC Cadet Sgt. James Harper demonstrates to students at Shirley Lanham Elementary how to raise the American flag as part of the cadets’ service-learning project. Middle - Fourth grader Jace Sigman, a student at Lanham Elementary student, raised a U.S. flag at the school’s flagpole as Zama Middle High School Cadet Pfc. Alexander Fitzgerald, left, observes. Bottom - Winter Ruyz, right, a fifth grader at Shirley Lanham Elementary, prepares to raise a U.S. flag at the school’s flagpole as Zama Middle High School JROTC Cadet Pvt. Patrick Cairy, center, observes. The cadets spent the day with Lanham students at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, as part of their service-learning project. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photos by Author.)
April 11, 2024 - Top - Zama Middle High School JROTC Cadet Sgt. James Harper demonstrates to students at Shirley Lanham Elementary how to raise the American flag as part of the cadets’ service-learning project. Middle - Fourth grader Jace Sigman, a student at Lanham Elementary student, raised a U.S. flag at the school’s flagpole as Zama Middle High School Cadet Pfc. Alexander Fitzgerald, left, observes. Bottom - Winter Ruyz, right, a fifth grader at Shirley Lanham Elementary, waits to raise a U.S. flag she is holding at the school’s flagpole after the boy, left, hands her the rope as Zama Middle High School JROTC Cadet Pvt. Patrick Cairy, center, observes. The cadets spent the day with Lanham students at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, as part of their service-learning project. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from photos by Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison - Japan.)

The young students were focused and attentive when the cadets were giving them instruction, and some even showed “cadet-level quality” when it came time for them to demonstrate what they had learned, such as folding the flag, Olson said. As for her fellow cadets, Olsen said she was likewise impressed at how effectively they worked together throughout the day, noting their efficiency and their ability to adjust their lessons on the fly.

“They are all doing amazing,” Olson said. “They are teaching me that I should expect more [of them].”

Olson said she hopes the time the cadets spent with the students will inspire the young mentees to join JROTC when they’re older and become leaders in their own communities.

Winter Ruyz, a fifth grader at Lanham, said she was surprised to learn there are proper and improper ways to handle the flags. When she got hands-on practice, it was a challenge holding the flag in place, but she said she was able to follow instructions and did better than she expected.

“It was a really cool experience to be able to say the commands while holding the American flag the way you are actually supposed do it,” Ruyz said.

It was fitting that the service-learning project was held during the Month of the Military Child, Fields said, because the Trojan Battalion hopes to be able to expand to other schools in the future, including Arnn Elementary on the Army’s Sagamihara Family Housing Area.

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