Fort Payne High School begins JROTC recruitment

Pictured are Lt. Col. John Walker, SFC Joseph Maks, along with FPHS JROTC cadets during the 2019 Veteran's Day program.

The Fort Payne High School Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is offered to any high school student that would like to join the program. Within this program, there are many things students are able to do. Whether it’s teaching a class, joining a team, joining the battalion staff, or helping in a service learning project to improve the community, it is all very rewarding and fun. Some people may think JROTC is about recruiting people to go into the military, but it is not. The only mission of JROTC is “to motivate young people to become better citizens.” That is exactly what we do in the Fort Payne JROTC program. The values of loyalty, respect, responsibility, service, honor, integrity, and personal courage are not easily taught in a classroom, but JROTC stresses these values and students learn by doing.

JROTC is one of the best citizenship and leadership programs in the Nation. In addition to teaching leadership, success skills, physical fitness, health, and citizenship, JROTC also teaches students how to efficiently improve their school work. Classes are taught by retired Army officers and noncommissioned officers experienced in working with young people and skilled at mentoring students.

Just a few of the many benefits students and the school gain through this program are: better grades, higher graduation rates, better school community, enhanced teamwork skills, increased student involvement, recognition through awards and promotions, and a high sense of self-confidence.

Fort Payne High School JROTC also offers many exciting and fun competitive teams that cadets can join. There is the rifle team, the color guard team, the drill team team, the physical training team, the CyberPatriot cyber security team, the leadership team, and the academic team. Each team has a student commander and co-commander that is in charge.

The rifle team is one of our most successful teams. They shoot precision air rifles in competitions year round competitions at state, southeast region, and national levels and win most of them. Shooters from the FPHS team are the best in the state of Alabama and have achieved national-level recognition, even competing at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

The color guard team consists of four cadets who carry the U.S flag, the Alabama flag, and two demilitarized (no longer able to shoot) M1 Garand rifles which had previously been honorably carried by troops in World War II and the Korean War. The color guard team presents the colors at many events for the community and is always in the public’s eye.

The drill team is a marching unit that performs routines based off of military drill, both armed and unarmed. They march in local parades and compete at local drill meets throughout the state. There is also an exhibition drill team that performs with rifles that cadets love to do. The team commander develops unique and creative drill sequences based on precision marching all while spinning, twirling and tossing facsimile drill rifles. These drills are used in event performances and in competitive drill meets.

The PT team competes in physical training. PT team helps improve cadets level of physical fitness, health, and shape. In competition, cadets are tested on how many push-ups and sit-ups they can do in a minute, and how fast they can run two miles.

The CyberPatriot team competes in state and national level competitions using high-tech cyber security issues with different computer operating systems. They have to detect then fix any issues they find with the operating system. These competitors learn valuable cyber security skills.

The leadership team and academic team are teams compete on leadership skills and their academics. The both teams use practice questions from the SAT and ACT standardized tests. If they pass a certain level in the competition, they will be able to go to Washington DC to compete. Each team has their own unique talents that are fun and enjoyable to do. Any team that a cadet is in, it feels like being in a family.

Each year, Fort Payne JROTC performs Community Service and Service Learning Projects (SLP). According to the Leadership Education Training Level 1 (LET 1) student core textbook, service learning means, “an environment where one can learn and develop by actively participating in organized service experiences within one’s own community.” There are three things that make up service learning, orientation and training, meaningful service, and structured reflection. The first thing we do is make a committee of five positions. First position is facilitator which leads team discussions to identify needs and prepare service learning activities. Second position is recorder which takes notes for the team and organizes information. Third position is reporter which represents the team’s voice and reports team’s findings. Fourth position is timekeeping which keeps track of time and plans the schedule. Fifth position is debriefer which encourages team members and leads discussion after presentation. All five positions come together and plan a project to do for the JROTC battalion. After the project has been carried out, the debriefer briefs the project to all the cadets on what we all learned and how we did. It gives all the cadets an opportunity to help the community and learn something new.

The Fort Payne High School battalion staff is one of the most important parts of JROTC. In JROTC there are six staff positions. S-1 which is the battalion adjutant personnel manager, S-2 battalion intelligence and security, S-3 battalion operations and training, S-4 logistics and supply, S-5 public affairs, and S-6 signal and communications. All of these positions make up JROTC. If we didn’t have a staff, then JROTC wouldn’t be able to run how it’s supposed to. Each part of staff is very important to the program. Cadets who are responsible, take initiative, a good leader and overall a good cadet, are the ones who earn these positions. Sometimes it’s a lot of stress, but it’s great to see how much good comes out of being in a staff position.

New to this course the next school year will be a flight school. Working with the Civil Air Patrol and using Career Tech provided flight simulators, JROTC students wishing to explore a career in aviation can go through ground school and flight simulator training.

Fort Payne High School offers many good programs to join, but JROTC is one of the best. Cadets learn how to do so many things like how to work as a team, public speaking, how to plan, organize and so much more. JROTC wants to help young men and women grow to become the people they want to be. I once was a student entering high school, not knowing what program I wanted to join. JROTC seemed a little scary but I took a shot anyway. That was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. I wouldn’t turn back and change a thing. Never be afraid to try something new because life gets boring staying in the limits of what you already know.

For more information you may call Lieutenant Colonel Walker or Sergeant First Class Maks at 256-845-3281 or email them at or

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