The Panther Valley JROTC gave its first ever Cadet Staff Briefing to the school board at this month's regular board meeting.
"Tonight, we're going to do something that hasn't been done maybe ever," said Major (ret.) Kenneth Markovich, the new JROTC instructor."The purpose is to inform you of how we run our organization and the unique opportunities that we give the cadets."
Markovich then presented the JROTC staff, which is comprised of Panther Valley students, including C/LTC Aric Shubeck, who is the battalion commander.
Shubeck explained his role as the battalion commander, as well as point out some of the highlights of the JROTC program. The Panther Valley unit was established in 1979 and has been recognized as an honor unit with distinction for the last 15 years. It is one of 27 units in Pennsylvania.
"Six hundred schools across the nation are trying to apply for a JROTC program," said Shubeck. "It really is an excellent program."
Shubeck also noted that the JROTC enrollment has been steadily increasing, with this year's membership being the highest it has been in 15 years, and as such is the largest organization in the school.
Shubeck stressed that although the unit does follow U.S. Army regulations, it is not actually a recruiting program.
"We have no inclination to persuade cadets to join any part of the armed services," he said.
Students must be U.S. citizens, in grades 9-12, and able to participate in the JROTC training. Additionally, students do wear their uniforms to school on a weekly basis and maintain high standards of conduct.
"Barring our adult supervision, the program is run almost entirely by cadets," explained Shubeck.
He presented a chain of command of the student leadership, which include several juniors and seniors.
"This staff is unlike any other group of individuals. They are an outstanding group of individuals, students that we feel are up to the task of being a staff officer."
Members of the command and staff, in addition to Shubeck, are Cody Smith, Company A Cdr; Stephanie Stoffa, Battalion XO; Joseph Bevins, CSM; Matthew Shutter, Battalion S1; John Heckman, Battalion S2; Patrick Motika, Battalion S3; Thomas Kuba, Battalion S4; and Jessica Reis, Battalion S5. Each of the staff members has their own responsibilities.
Board members also had the chance to question each of the students.
In addition to the many school functions that the JROTC students serve at, they are also active in the community, providing color guards for funerals and parades. They also participate in community activities like flag retirement ceremonies and food drives. There are also several specialized units within the JROTC program, such as the Drill and Raider teams. The group plans a yearly trip to Washington D.C., as well as other outings including an end of year picnic and a whitewater rafting trip.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Shubeck added, "this presentation is just a snapshot of what we do throughout the year. Anything you can think of for community support, we do."
Superintendent Rosemary Porembo thanked the students for their work, calling the presentation "excellent."
Several board members also thanked the students, calling the presentation one of the best and most organized that the board has seen.
More information on the Panther Valley JROTCprogram can be found on the Web at www.PVHSJROTC.org.