Livingston — Yellow Jackets may have a chance to become military cadets in the future as school officials consider establishing a Junior ROTC program at Denham Springs High School.
Leaders stressed that the process can be lengthy and said they haven’t even determined which branch they will approach to invite on campus. The Army seems an unlikely partner, as that branch has currently reached its JROTC funding limit, according to the Army website.
The parish’s only other program, at Walker High, is affiliated with the Marines, and principal Jason St. Pierre praised the effect it’s had on campus in its first three years.
“They’re strictly implementing Marine Corps principles in the program. ... (The cadets) have standards they have to meet behaviorally and academically,” he said, adding that the desire to remain in JROTC has kept some students from dropping out.
Schools do have to invest in the program though, providing classrooms, office space, an area to practice marching and an armory, St. Pierre said. The Marines also require a secure shooting range for air rifles, which Walker does not yet have but is building as part of their ongoing expansion, he added.
The Navy application makes no mention of firing ranges but asks several questions about campus computer resources. The Air Force would require a school the size of Denham Springs High to field at least 100 cadets.
Schools are also responsible for paying half the salary of two officers to serve as instructors, one commissioned and one non-commissioned, St. Pierre explained.
School Board Vice President Buddy Mincey said he’d like to establish a program as soon as next year but admitted that working with the federal government, the process may take a bit longer.
Superintendent John Watson noted the decision does not just rely on the school — the military branch will have to agree to the partnership as well.