Having 114 cadets assigned over a three-block period was “motivating and inspiring,” for Halifax County High School Senior Army Instructor retired Army First Sergeant Gregory T. Scott.
Scott was the Senior Army Instructor for HCHS JROTC when the school semester started in August 2019 not knowing that the school year would end the way it did, with written letters to all 114 cadets enrolled in JROTC, Zoom meetings, telephone calls and seeing them in public, because of the pandemic.
Through it all, HCHS JROTC has had a “successful year,” according to Scott, and he said, it couldn’t have been without the help of Hubert Pannell.
He was their long-term sub, and he made a “great impact on the students as well as myself.
“Listening and learning how he engaged with the students will never be forgotten. Coming to work when the school system was normal was always an upbeat for me. Mr. Pannell has the leadership qualities that helped JROTC be successful. Whenever the cadets needed some guidance or encouraging words, Mr. Pannell was always there to provide those words for our cadets,” said Scott.
He also wanted to give a special thank you to parents and guardians of the cadets of HCHS JROTC.
“Thank you for the trust and respect you always gave me from August till now,” said Scott.
He also offered a thank you to Dr. Mark Lineburg, Halifax County Public School superintendent, principal Michael Lewis, assistant principals Kevin Davis, Martha Chandler, Frank Shealy and Ryan Russell.
“Your support to HCHS JROTC will never go unnoticed. You always provided a different insight that helped me stay focus on the school mission and JROTC mission. As a team, you all communicated with me directly on a daily bases to help the overall structure of the program,” said Scott.
To all the teachers that had a JROTC cadet in the classroom, “I truly appreciate your support through emails and hallway talks, whenever my cadets were not in line and out of order.
“This is how we make our school a great school of learning through effective communication,” he added.
With their annual end of the year awards ceremony and military ball canceled, Scott encoaurges HCHS JROTC cadets to never stop supporting and celebrating each other’s success.
The cadets understand the word resilience and the Army seven values, according to Scott.
By understanding loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, Scott said HCHS JROTC cadets have learned the necessity of community service and know how to demonstrate what America should and can be.
This year Halifax County High School JROTC was recognized by the Virginia School Board Association Showcase for Success, selected to participate in the JROTC ACE competition out of 1,200 other JROTC programs, attained over 12 trophies putting the drill team in second overall and third place in two separate competitions and the Commanders Award at a Raiders Competition.
Due to the pandemic, numerous other competitions were canceled.
This year the HCHS JROTC Battalion Commander was nominated and selected for the Four Star Leadership 2020. Isabella Long will attend this virtual on July 13-17. This program is designed to develop leadership skills through curriculum, speech and writing competitions and personal experiences with respected leaders.
The HCHS JROTC program offers many benefits for all the students that enter into the JROTC program, according to Scott. The program looks for good students, great learners, impact on all other classes, higher graduation rates, better school community and increased involvement, he said.
JROTC goes well beyond the classroom walls by providing many opportunities for the cadets to participate in community events. Volunteering is key, for the overall success of the program, said Scott. JROTC is not a recruitment nor an indoctrination program. Based off the structure of the military JROTC mission is to develop and improve students’ self-discipline, confidence and pride in many ways HCHS generally do not offer.
The curriculum is one of the main ingredients in the overall equation to achieve success. Having 114 cadets enrolled in JROTC, Scott said, helps them to incorporate different ways to be successful, set goals, develop winning habits, overcoming fears of failure and develop personal goals and social responsibilities. Be able to learn how to make decisions and solve problems independently is part of achieving success, he added.
Some of his key goals and mission statement was to reinforce the individual performance, not just in JROTC, but in all classes by developing a system of recognition for the cadets accomplishments and excellence.
The program has its ups and downs, Scott recognize. He said some cadets understand discipline and respect it, but sometimes they forget their Cadet Creed. When this happens, it causes actions of positive re-enforcement for Scott.
Being able to communicate with the cadets professionally and personally is how respect is gained, he said.
“In JROTC, discipline is my top priority,” said Scott.
One of his goals is perfecting the JROTC cadets to become positive representatives within the schools and community. This will help hone their leadership and confidence skills through extracurricular activities, he said. The cadets can participate in drill, color guard, academic and leadership competitions, summer camp and serve as ambassadors for the school and the school district.
The cadets in the program have completed over 200 plus community support hours from August to March 13. The mission is to motivate young people to be better citizens.
“Having a staff of cadets in leadership positions makes my job easy. Giving them the purpose and direction is how they take charge and develop plans,” said Scott.
Some of the events HCHS Army JROTC participate in include raising and lowering the flags daily at HCHS, moment of silence and Pledge of Allegiance at HCHS daily, Color Guard for the home football and basketball games, parking lot detail at the community fairground, parking lot detail for the community car show, Crossing of the Dan at Halifax County Middle School, Crossing of the Dan at The Prizery, Western District Drill Competition in Norfolk, Color Guard competitions, Raider Team competitions and roadside clean up.
They also provide mentorship to Sinai Elementary School, Feedmore support at Sinai Elementary and Cluster Springs Elementary and the Read a Book program to the students at the South Boston Early Learning Center.
JROTC students also participate in the pre-Thanksgiving Feed the Community held at Mount Olive Baptist Church, host the annual Veterans Day ceremony, host the 9/11 Recognition Ceremony, hold community car washes, participate in South Boston and Brookneal Christmas parades, host the ASVAB test, place flags on the grave sites at Oak Ridge Cemetery for Veterans Day and Memorial Day, have a JROTC yard sale, host a Walk for Hope Color Guard, Walmart Re-Opening Color Guard and host a display table at HCHS CTE Expo.
This year their annual summer camp called JCLC was canceled due to the pandemic. This summer camp tests the cadet knowledge, confidence and winning abilities.
First Sergeant Scott had selected 12 cadets to participate in the summer camp, but plans have changed.
“By making everyday a great day when we were in class has helped build a foundation for the cadets to do the right thing because the cadets know and understand that leadership is 24/7 and character always counts. Sometimes it will take a single thing to shape the cadets and mold them into who they will become. By doing so, it’s always good to see former cadets return to the program and say they are where they are today, because of a small or large portion of JROTC,” said Scott.
The goal for the upcoming school semester is unknown.
“I had did some backwards planning so the program could achieve to have 150 Cadets in August 20-2021. However, the world has changed and we will be waiting to adapt, adjust and overcome what that would look like,” said Scott.
The Army of Cadet Command has already implemented a new curriculum for all JROTC programs called the SMART Cadet Portal. This portal was created to help bring the JROTC towards a primary digital platform. This portal will provide a place for the cadets to learn and track their progress in different LET levels. This also will allow the instructors to view the things the cadets in the program are working on and provide assistance or clarification.
“Looking at this digital platform, it’s a great tool and over the summer, I will be doing a lot of virtual training on the SMART Cadet Portal,” said Scott.
The seniors of this program will leave out with a good understanding of what it takes to be successful in their life journey, according to Scott.
From the football field and basketball court, he said these seniors are equipped with tools to make them more effectively enabling them to be more focused and proficient on life task.
“Congratulations to the graduating seniors of HCHS JROTC. Enter to learn and leave to leave, to be leaders of leaders in this world,” Scott concluded.