Ripley’s JROTC program is ‘School of Distinction’

jrotc-ripleyBy Martha Jacob –

In early October, Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC was notified of its selection as a “Regional School of Distinction,” for Region 3 schools with Marine Corps Junior ROTC programs.
“Annually, schools with MCJROTC programs compete for “Naval Honor School” designation,” said Colonel James Clark, instructor for the RULH JROTC, “This is the highest distinction. Only five schools in the Region 3 received ‘School of Distinction’ status.”
At the Oct. 19 RULH Board of Education meeting, Colonel Clark  and Sgt. Major Otis Kokensparger presented to high school principal, Susie Skinner.
“Region 3 is made up of about 14 states and 50 schools,” Col. Clark told the board. “Every year we have to submit report after report after report, so this year, we did our reports on our students, our cadets community service, their academic achievements, athletic achievements and just a whole battery of measurable criteria that Jr. ROTC Units are graded on.”
He continued, “We were going for Naval Honors School, but they only give out 10 of those, throughout the United States. So, we got the Siver Prize, and we’re just thrilled that we had such a great year last year, and Sgt. Major Kokensparger and I wanted to publically acknowledge Ms. Skinner for all of her support as well as Superintendent Naylor and the board.”
Col Clark said that last year his cadets made a bit of a shift in the way the program operates. He said  the group is embracing the concept  of ‘balanced excellence.’
“We don’t want all these kids to be able to do 50 push-ups and run five miles in 20 minutes or that kind of thing,” Col. Clark said, “Of course we want them to be physically fit, but we also want them to become good citizens and know the value of serving their community and getting good grades. I think that this recognition that we’re getting from the Marine Corps sort of indicates that we’re onto something.”
Skinner was presented with an award for all her support and encouragement.