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Paulding County JROTC's Service Learning Project benefits Wounded Warriors and Veterans:

Each year the JROTC at Paulding County High School located in Dallas, GA, gives back to our community in a variety of ways, including an entire school year long Service Learning Project.  We’ve done this in many ways in the past, from fishing trips with Wounded Warriors, to raising funds for an autistic Cadet and his dog to be service trained.  Other ways we have given back to the community include; hosting Veterans Day Ceremonies, holiday food and toy drives, visiting senior citizen homes, or just by simply raising and lowering the National Colors every day.  However amidst all of these activities we decided to do something more this past school year, something that would give back to our community in an enduring fashion and leave a legacy for what we hope is years to come. 

The Cadets of The Paulding County High School JROTC conducted a service learning project to help benefit Wounded Warriors and Retired Veterans of the United States Military in the Paulding County area.  We worked with the Paulding County School District and our County Government to establish and install reserved parking slots at some of our local schools, the school district office, and county government building campus, similar to that of “Expectant Mother” reserved parking seen at some retail shopping centers. 

Our project grew exponentially, as its popularity spread throughout the community.  To date we’ve established signs at local businesses, churches and other community support locations.

The Cadets from Paulding County High School in Dallas designed the signs themselves and used funds they raised from fellow students to purchase signs which ask motorists to reserve a parking space for a wounded or retired vets. They then began spreading the word and circulating throughout the community to have them installed them, said LTC Greg McAfee, senior instructor for the JROTC unit.

Cadet Austin Rakestraw, a senior LET 4, said his fellow Cadets wanted to honor their instructors, who are retired veterans, as well as some Cadets’ family members who had been wounded in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Sometimes their struggle is an unsung struggle,” he said. “Those men and women gave all. Let’s show how much we appreciate it.”

Cadets in the recently completed school year raised enough funds to buy 20 signs for the central office, the high school’s feeder schools, including Watson Government Complex and courthouse, and several of the county’s business owners, McAfee said.  The initial sign dedication ceremony at the high school, included the Paulding County HS Principal, the school district Superintendent, and a local Wounded Warrior who had just moved to the area. 

Jonathan Carrasco, who is the unit’s battalion commander for the 2014-2015 school year, said his goal is to work to keep cadets and students motivated about the project.

The signs include the name of the school and JROTC unit and sign builder Peach State Printing, who created the signs at cost.

“It’s a legacy,” Carrasco said. “We hope to carry that legacy forward.”  Rakestraw, who helped spearhead the campaign, said the Paulding School Board and Superintendent Cliff Cole “helped out so much” in their support.

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