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Pinkerton Academy JROTC cadets get ready to salute the flag at the beginning of class. (ADAM SWIFT/Union Leader Correspondent)

Pinkerton JROTC gets top marks

DERRY - Every three years, inspectors for the Air Force Junior ROTC program in Montgomery, Ala., evaluate the more than 800 programs across the country.

And for the third time in a decade, Pinkerton Academy's AF JROTC earned the program's highest evaluation, Exceeds Standards.

The achievement is something the 175 cadets at the school can be proud of, said Lt. Col. Howie Steadman, one of the three teachers at the school's JROTC program.

"The kids worked hard for this and know what they were striving for, which was to reach Exceeds Standards instead of Meets Standards," said Steadman.

The JROTC program began at Pinkerton Academy 13 years ago and is an elective program that offers classes for students in all four years.

"There is no military commitment required of the students," said Steadman. "The program is citizenship-based and teaches a lot about leadership and management and gives a taste of the military."

About half the students who stay in the program for four years go onto enlist in the military, service academies, or college ROTC programs.

The daily classes are split between aviation science and leadership classes. Fourth-year students help with the management of the cadet corps, said Steadman.

"We have 28 seniors this year who help the teachers with the administration and operation of the program," he said. "It's set up as an Air Force group with ranks like cadet commander and deputy commander."

In addition to the classroom studies, the cadets also take part in a number of after school activities and community service.

"The kids are out and about to assist the community in a lot of capacities," said Steadman. "Veterans Day is a big day for us where we provide color guards for a lot of events and march in parades."

The JROTC also takes part in the Adopt-a-Highway program, cleaning a two-mile portion of Bypass 28 three times a year, assists the Salvation Army near the holidays, and visits a number of local veterans and nursing homes.

The Air Force evaluation of the program took many of these aspects into account. From bookkeeping to drilling to student presentations on the achievements of the JROTC program over the past three years, Steadman said the evaluator was impressed with Pinkerton Academy.

"He said the program was one of the best he has seen for how the kids looked in their uniforms," Steadman said. "And in the supply area, he said it was the best set up and most accurate system he had ever seen."

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Adam Swift may be reached at aswift@newstote.com.

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