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GCHS lands Navy National Defense Cadet Corp program

GATESVILLE – Gates County High School will begin the Navy National Defense Cadet Corp (NNDCC) program with the opening of the 2021-2022 school year.

NNDCC is modeled after the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC) and provides a similar program designed to expand students’ opportunities to gain the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.

“The statute establishing the NNDCC program was enacted in 2008, and the Navy has elected to use this authority to support student citizenship development programs,” said Rear Adm. David Steindl, former commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC).

Retired U.S. Navy Chief John Howard will lead the Cadet Corp program at Gates County High School. Contributed Photo

Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent of Gates County Schools, began the process of applying for the program by establishing contacts and connections with U.S. Navy leaders in Norfolk, Virginia and Pensacola, Florida.

“The waiting list is extremely long to be awarded an NJROTC program,” said Dr. Williams. “Beginning with the NNDCC program allows us to transition to an NJROTC in two years. It has been a long process but we are very excited for the opportunities the NNDCC program will provide our students.”

The only difference in the NJROTC program and the NNDCC program is funding. With the NNDCC program, the school district must fund the instructor’s salary while the NJROTC program provides partial funding for the instructor.

Other costs incurred by the school for both programs includes student uniforms, daily operational expenses and field trip experiences. The U.S. Navy supplies curriculum material for NNDCC instructors and students, and the unit equipment necessary to execute the curriculum.

“I am very appreciative to the Gates County Commissioners for providing the funding for the NNDCC instructor salary,” Dr. Williams stated. “I am also appreciative to Commander Gart Jones, U.S. Navy (Retired), our NJROTC Regional Commander, for assisting us in obtaining classroom supplies and cadet uniforms at no cost, which would have been a tremendous expense to the school district.”

As a school division, Williams said the primary purpose for establishing the cadet corps is to provide the students with the opportunity to serve their community and develop leadership skills.

“I see the NNDCC program as an outstanding opportunity for young adults from Gates County to be introduced to the military and the military way of thinking and solving problems,” remarked Gates County Board of Education Chair Ray Felton. “I frequently think back to lessons learned in ROTC at NC State the semester I was there and to the seven years in the National Guard. The pay was low but the benefits just the discipline taught me have been great. We have an enthusiastic instructor employed who looks forward to working with our youth. The benefits each student will derive from the program will be in direct proportion to the effort they put forward. I expect great results.”

While the NNDCC program is along military lines, it is open to all students, even those who have not considered the military as a career or a military academy for their future education. The program is designed to encourage initiative and individuality to develop natural gifts, to teach self-control, develop personal character, responsibility and qualities of integrity, loyalty, and dedication. Students will also have the ability to compete in athletic competitions and in orienteering at the regional and national levels.

The Gates County NNDCC is a unit of NJROTC Area Six that includes all NNDCC and NJROTC units in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The NNDCC program at Gates County High School will be a part of Career and Technical Education (CTE). The NNDCC uses the NJROTC curriculum, which includes a variety of subjects as follows:

CITIZENSHIP — Instill values and responsibilities of good citizenship.

LEADERSHIP — An ongoing study of the principles and practical application of leadership with emphasis on providing opportunities for students to exercise and develop their own leadership abilities.

NAVAL ORIENTATION — A basic introduction to the Navy — its customs, traditions, and way of life.

NAVAL HISTORY — History of the United States Navy from the colonial period to the present.

NAVAL OPERATIONS/ORGANIZATION — Familiarizes the student with national strategy and naval forces, daily military operations, training, exercises, drills, and shipboard organization.

NAVIGATION — An introduction to piloting and celestial navigation.

SEAMANSHIP — An introduction to the general subjects of seamanship that include anchoring and mooring, ship handling, small boats, weather, ship construction, and steering and propulsion systems.

NAUTICAL ASTRONOMY — A study of astronomy and its application to celestial navigation.

ELECTRONICS — An introduction to electronics as the basis for shipboard radar, sonar, communications, and guidance systems.

OCEANOGRAPHY — Provides information on the collection and dissemination of hydrographic and navigational data of the world’s ocean systems.

DRILLS, COMMANDS, AND CEREMONIES — Includes individual, squad, platoon, and company close order drill; rotation of command; physical fitness; personnel inspections; and parade in company review.

NNDCC is a four-year program with students having the ability to earn cadet rankings and earn rank promotions. For students to become cadets they must be enrolled in and attending a regular course of instruction in grades 9 through 12 at Gates County High School. Students must be 14 years of age, be physically qualified to participate in the school’s normal physical education program and in all NNDCC activities.

Once accepted into the program, cadets must maintain acceptable standards of academic achievement and an academic standing that warrants at least normal progression leading to graduation. Cadets must also maintain acceptable standards of conduct and comply with specified personal grooming standards of the NNDCC.

A team from Gates County Schools visited NJROTC programs in Norfolk Public Schools to gain a first-hand few of what it offers to students. Current School Board member and former school principal Sallie Ryan said, “After visiting the navy cadet program in Norfolk, I knew this would be a wonderful opportunity for our students. Watching and talking with the young cadets involved in the program reinforced these thoughts. The cadets proudly wore their uniforms and discussed their future military plans. Many of the students had not been clear about their future plans and participation in the program had given them a new focus for their future. Dr. Williams worked hard to get this program in place and I’m just so excited to move forward.”

Principal Jonathan Hayes is excited to institute the program at the high school and hopes to enroll 50 students in the inaugural year.

“This program will allow our students to explore what a career in the military would be like and will better prepare our students to be successful on the ASVAB,” Hayes said. “Students who stay committed to the NNDCC program will have the opportunity for immediate advancement should they opt to join a branch of the service. Most importantly, the NNDCC program will reinforce the mission and vision of Gates County High School to cultivate productive and responsible citizens.”

Navy Chief John Howard will lead the Gates County High School NNDCC. Chief Howard is retired from the Navy with 25 years of service. He is familiar with Gates County as he served three of his active duty years in Norfolk.

Chief Howard is a designated Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, and Master Training Specialist. His awards include Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (7 awards), Army Achievement Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal (4 awards), Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Ribbon, Kosovo Campaign Ribbon, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Navy Expert Rifle Medal, and various personal awards.

Prior to his retirement from the Navy, the Naval Service Training Command certified Chief Howard as a Naval Science Instructor. He is fully qualified to administer the Navy-approved NJROTC/NNDCC curriculum.

Chief Howard is married with two children, all of whom reside in Pensacola, Florida, and will be moving to North Carolina this summer.

Chief Howard expressed his excitement to begin the program at Gates County High School.

“I believe this program should promote good citizenship while developing each cadets’ leadership abilities and provide an understanding of naval traditions and courtesies,” Howard said. “I will do my best to make learning a fun experience and hope to provide students with an in-depth and lasting experience of the United States Armed Forces. Each cadet should expect to be held to a high standard and above all have fun and engage their minds.”

Information about the NNDCC program is available on the Gates County Schools district website and the Gates County High School website.

Parents of students interested in enrolling in the program should contact the Gates County High School principal and/or guidance counselor to add the program to the student’s schedule.

Later this summer, the high school will hold an informational meet and greet for parents and students to meet Chief Howard and learn more about the program.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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