Throughout high school, students have the chance to be involved in a number of activities to gather leadership and career experience. Junior cadet Jeffrey Hartman has gained the opportunity to be actively involved in an agreement with the Lyons’ high school Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
“My mom found out about the program,” Hartman said. “I was a little nervous about joining, but I was really interested. We learn a lot about leadership and I love that.”
Leadership is the main focus of the program.
“It’s a way for the kids to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Chief Master Sergeant Bill foster said. Foster is the Air Force JROTC director at Lyons.
Being a junior involved with the senior class gives Hartman exposure to numerous leadership activities and opportunities.
“The cadets plan, operate, and execute everything that happens in the cadet corps. We’re highly involved in the community,” Foster said.
Foster believes giving the cadets the responsibility to plan events can help better prepare them for life after school.
“We do flag details at just about everything — we’ve done Sterling College graduation, the state fair parade, Lyons’ parades, and different basketball games. We’re also highly involved with the Rice County Coalition on aging, so we do food bank work and things like that,” Foster said.
Hartman expected to experience some difficulties coming into the fourth-year program.
“One day I had to spend doing nothing but practicing my marching, and sometimes the drills are difficult to learn, but I enjoy it,” Hartman said.
Despite it being Hartman’s first year in the program, Foster is impressed with his capability to improve quickly.
“He has acclimated well,” Foster said. “Cadet Hartman’s situation is unique. This is a six-senior staff, most of which have been in the corps four years. He came in blank and didn’t know w hat was going on, but the seniors have lead him and beefed him up, exposing him to higher level things quicker in his career than most cadets.”
Overall, Hartman is proud of the program and what it has taught him and has been able to use it to strengthen his social skills and connections.
“I’ve kind of learned to open up to them and expand the number of people I talk to,” he said. “I think I’ve influenced myself more than anyone else.”