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Snohomish JROTC hits 50 year mark
Program grows teens into young leaders

Cadet Private Mackenzie Ramsey, a freshman at Snohomish High School, gives Cadet Corporal Andrew Mann, a sophomore, a salute as Mann prepares to inspect Ramsey’s uniform during company inspections on Friday, May 5 in the school’s auxiliary gym.

SNOHOMISH — One of the oldest MCJROTC in the western United States is right here in Snohomish and the organization will be hosting a fun run this month to commemorate its 50th year.
‘JROTC’ formally stands for Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The principles of the U.S. Military are at the core: discipline, service, cleanliness and love for country.
Snohomish’s program is U.S. Marine Corps JROTC.
The commanding officer, Capt. Will Lennon (USMC retired), said the program is more than drills and routines, rather, it’s more focused on leadership building skills, life lessons and teaching students to work together to solve problems.
“It’s more of a ‘leadership laboratory’ in that they get to do it, not just get lectured on it; the class mixes all grades that teach each other about leadership, responsibility and community service,” Lennon said last week. “We are a resource to the community and we volunteer a lot.”
The Snohomish JROTC was requested and founded by retired Marine, former teacher, principal, and then-superintendent Hal Moe in 1967.
Yes, that’s the same Hal Moe after which the old public pool was named.
Moe retired from the Marine Corps as a major and became an educator in Snohomish. With his ties to the Marines, he requested a JROTC program for Snohomish.
In homage to Moe, and former cadets of the program, the current instructors, cadets and parents will celebrate with good-old-fashioned PT (physical training), a 3.1 mile or 5K run in the trails of Willis Tucker Park on Saturday, May 20 starting at 10 a.m. It’s a community event and all are welcome. The program is a nonprofit organization that has students from the high schools in Snohomish and Monroe.
The program is offered as an elective course at the high school, holding class five days a week that include class time for academics, physical training, and uniform inspection, for a grade. The cadets wear Marine Corps. uniforms for ceremonies, events and PT. The cadets can earn school credits for participation, such as for electives for graduation, occupational credit or PE credit.
“On average, about 25 percent enlist in the military after high school, and we also award scholarships,” Lennon said. “They wear the same uniforms as the Marines. It gives the students a sense of pride that they get to wear that uniform.”
However, JROTC is not a recruiting tool.
“The misconception is often that I’m trying to recruit students to the Marines, but I’m not. I am a teacher, not a recruiter,” Lennon said. “My job is to teach leadership, responsibility and a sense of service to our community.”
The Snohomish MCJROTC helps with school clean-ups, traffic direction for town events, church volunteer activities, middle school activities and at the senior center.  
They also have teams that cadets can volunteer for, such as the color guard, armed drill team, and the award-winning air rifle team.
Last month, Snohomish’s MCJROTC Air Rifle Team took fifth place overall in the nation at the Marines competition and 16th overall in the country among all military branches. The team of four young ladies went to Las Vegas and Alabama to compete. The cadets practice on the high school campus.
“Most of the students that join their freshman year, they get a sense of family and choose to stay all four years of their high school careers, eventually rising up through the ranks,” Lennon said. “Seniors guide the class, they get the opportunity to teach, mentor and lead the younger cadets. We instructors mentor the seniors.”
In recent years, the parents of cadets have formed a separate parent organization to assist the JROTC in fundraising and class trips for training. Just a few weeks ago, cadets journeyed to San Diego to Camp Pendleton for a three-day cadet leadership camp.
Lennon and instructor Gunnery Sgt. Verlon Roberts, each served in the U.S.Marine Corps for 20 years before
retiring and becoming certificated teachers in Snohomish.
One of the standout seniors of 2017 is Peter Elliot Faber, who was recently accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy and is the JROTC’s
XO, or Executive Officer of the battalion. It’s the highest rank for a cadet.
Parent PTA president Jamie Pettit says Faber will be President of the United States someday.
“This kid is going places,” she said cheerfully.
Pettit herself was a cadet with the Snohomish JROTC, graduating in 1997. Her son, Chase, is a sophomore in the JROTC program,
carrying on a family tradition. Several families have siblings or parent-child legacies in the program that creates a large sense of family as well as community.
During team and parent interactions between CO (Commanding Officer) Capt. Lennon, XO Faber, and
others, they all speak with a casual military lexicon easily uttered without hesitation: “The meeting is at 1900 (meaning 7 p.m.),” and, “The fun run is twenty-May (meaning May 20).”
There is a strong sense of camaraderie among the cadets, and even the parents, who help the JROTC thrive. They want it to continue for another 50 years or more.
“It offers them a significant amount of exposure to positive leadership, discipline, structure and  community,
and I’ve really liked watching my sons grow with it,” said parent and PTA treasurer Sarah Scoringe. “My older son, Max, when he was in it (and went on to serve in the U.S. Army) before joining JROTC, was a ‘follower’ and we could see him ‘following’ others down the wrong path. He came into this program and we really saw a change. In high school, that’s significant because high school is hard, socially, it’s really hard.”
The Snohomish JROTC 50th birthday fun run organizers wants any and all participants to come have fun with them.


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