Decline in ROTC numbers not seen in parish

Published 10:02 am Friday, June 27, 2014

A recent Boston Globe article said participation in the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, has declined more than 16 percent nationally the past two years. However, Washington Parish ROTC instructors said the programs are flourishing at their schools.

ROTC is a college-based program for training commissioned officers in the United States Armed Forces. ROTC students attend classes like other students, but also receive basic military training and officer training for their chosen branch of service through the ROTC unit at a nearby college.

Students participate in regular drills during the school year, and extended training activities during the summer. An ROTC student may receive a merit-based scholarship covering all or part of college tuition, in return for an obligation of active military service after graduation.

Bogalusa High School ROTC instructor Lt. Col. Gavin Guidry said the program is doing well. He is in his second year at the school.

“We’re doing great. Last school year, we averaged students. In a school population just short of 500, we’re doing about 20 percent of the school population. We’re doing real well.”

Guidry predicted high student participation for the upcoming school year.

“We’re definitely thinking it will be an increase this school year,” Guidry said. “We have a goal of 90 students this school year.”

Guidry retired from the Army after 20 years of service.

Franklinton High School instructor Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Brown said the program is more than healthy at his school.

“Participation might be down nationally, but that is not true here at Franklinton High School,” Brown said. “We’re flourishing.”

Like Bogalusa High School, Brown said FHS averaged 80 students this past year. Brown has been at Franklinton for slightly more than 10 years.

Pine, Varnado and Mt. Hermon high schools do not offer their students ROTC.