NIXA, MO -- In the spring of 2020, the high school experience I was used to began to look much different. As state quarantine legislation placed restrictions on large gatherings, in-class instruction quickly became a thing of the past. My JROTC instructors were the first of any of my teachers to reach out. They took the initiative to individually contact each cadet within the program, displaying steadfast vigilance and decisive adaptability to the problematic situation. My instructors acted as role models of resilience and flexibility and inspired me to have the same initiative during the pandemic.
Being in several actively competitive teams with Nixa JROTC has taught me to adapt to different and uncomfortable circumstances and think clearly in stressful situations. Much like awaiting the unknown outcome of a drill competition, being thrown into a new learning system and schoolwork was stressful and provoked anxiety.
An unseen future can be disconcerting, especially when an educational career is at stake. In the face of uncertainty, I followed the procedure my instructors repeated before every competition: put forth your best effort no matter what, and take each task one step at a time. With their guidance in mind, I quickly adapted to a new learning environment and confronted these situations head-on.
As I move into this new school year, many more new challenges will inevitably present themselves. Not all students will be abiding by social distancing and mask ordinances, no matter how many incentives, punishments, or warnings public schools issue. Amid our peers, Army JROTC cadets must continue to lead by example and follow the rules to keep the student body safe.
JROTC has provided me with opportunities and skills I wouldn’t have been able to find anywhere else. I’ve learned how to be an effective leader that teammates and peers can rely on, learn from, and respect by putting them before myself and modeling leadership principles. A selfless attitude and solid work ethic are necessities in these uncertain times. These are soft skills that JROTC is built upon and instills in its cadets.
Throughout this pandemic and within the coming school year, I know I can count on my instructors, their wisdom, and their examples to help me adjust to shifting surroundings with confidence and success while supporting the JROTC mission and service to others in our community.