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Published: Wednesday, 5/12/2004

Springfield: Junior ROTC program earns spirit award

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's not unusual for the Junior ROTC program at Springfield High School to bring home awards from national drill competitions, but this year the school came back with the National Spirit Award recognizing its overall achievements.

School leaders said the award noted the team's continued high level of performance after the death last year of its long-time leader, Maj. John Gardiner.

Kristina White, community liaison for the school district, said the 135 students enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps program worked hard to do well in the recent competition in Daytona Beach, Fla.

First Sgt. Ricky Thomas, who has taken over the program, said the drill teams are usually at the school practicing at 6:30 a.m.

He said all of the young people are motivated to do well in the program sponsored by the Army.

Sergeant Thomas is retired from active duty and spent time with the ROTC program at the University of Michigan before he joined the junior program at Springfield.

Although many of those involved in ROTC continue their interest in college and eventually become officers in the Army, some aren't able to go on.

Heather Liebherr is the head of the corps and holds the student rank of lieutenant commander.

She said she's enjoyed the experience but will go to Ohio State University in the fall with the intention of then going to medical school to become a psychiatrist.

Because ROTC requires a commitment to go on active duty after college, Miss Liebherr said she will forego further military training to attend medical school.

Nevertheless, she said students learn more than military drills and talents confined to the military.

She is pleased to have gained skills in map reading, navigation, and other subjects.

Ann Steiner has a son who has graduated from the program and another who is currently enrolled.

She saidthat the "life skills" taught in ROTC are things that don't always come from a classroom.

She said the program teaches time management, gun safety, first aid, and working as a member of a team.

Contact Mike Jones at

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096.



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