McDuffie County's JROTC program will have two instructors next year. In their regular meeting last week, Board of Education members approved hiring Commander Robert Brewer to become the senior naval science instructor for the 2009-10 school year. The current instructor Gunnery Sergeant Larry Dunn will remain in his position.
"I'm just honored to be given the opportunity to come to Thomson and work with GySgt. Dunn with these young people to hopefully make them better citizens," Cmdr. Brewer said in a telephone interview with The Mirror.
Cmdr. Brewer lives in Lincolnton, is retired from the U.S. Navy as a flight officer, and has been the JROTC instructor at Greenbrier High School in Columbia County for the past five years.
The Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is in its first year at Thomson High and Thomson-McDuffie Junior High schools. The program is a high school version of the college program that teaches students citizenship, patriotism and leadership skills, along with fundamental military knowledge.
Two instructors were hired for the program when it began, but one backed out at the last minute, leaving GySgt. Dunn to teach the 180 students in the program by himself.
"Well, I'm encouraged about the number of students who are in the program, which shows there's a lot of enthusiasm there," Cmdr. Brewer said.
Cmdr. Brewer visited Thomson High School last February, when he brought four commanders from Greenbrier High School's Naval JROTC program to give a presentation to all McDuffie students in eighth through 11th grades to help them better understand the program that at that time would be new to McDuffie County.
Cadets who complete three years in JROTC are eligible to receive physical education and health credits for graduation, apply for scholarships and receive nomination to a military academy.
Students who participate in JROTC are under no obligation to join the military. However, if they complete three years of JROTC and then join any branch of the military, they will begin at an E3 rank rather than the traditional E1.