McNary ROTC to end

The Air Force Junior ROTC program at McNary High School will end with the current school year.

The Salem-Keizer School District budget cuts announced last week included the lay off of the two instructors.

Senior Master Sergeant Stephen Hammond and Master Sergeant Javier Martin-Vinas will both be out of a job come July 1.

The McNary ROTC program has been on probation by the U.S. Air Force for having too few students enrolled. ROTC should have upwards of 100 students; this school year, McNary had 65 students.

That probation and the district budget cuts were too much to maintain the program. There is no ROTC program scheduled at McNary in the next school year.

The Air Force Junior ROTC program is grounded in the Air Force core values of “integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.” 

The program is mandated to sustain 870 Air Force Junior ROTC units in high schools worldwide. 

There are approximately 90,000 high school cadets in the program and more than 1,600 retired USAF instructors who lead, mentor, guide,and teach ROTC cadets in high schools in the U.S. and around the world. Air Force Junior ROTC has school administration and community support because of the positive impact on cadets, schools, communities, and the nation. 

McNary principal Scott Gragg said it is hard to justify the program with 65 students out of a school population of more than 2,000.

“It puts a burden on other classes,” said Gragg.

The other ROTC program in the area is at North Salem High School. Underclassmen who want to partake in ROTC can apply for intra-district transfer to North Salem if there are slots available.

“We lose a tremendous amount” without ROTC,” added Gragg.

The program “builds good people,” said Cadet Lincoln Isom, currently a junior at McNary. 

McNary cadets have held drills at the school and also volunteered in the community.

What will be missing at McNary without ROTC will be color guards, flag ceremonies and work in the community. Also, it is one less place for kids with little parental guidance to join and become good citizens.

An Air Force Junior ROTC program could be resurrected in the future if the school district budget allows and if the minimum number of students enroll.

Neither of those are guaranteed.

Contact Publisher Lyndon Zaitz:
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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