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JROTC presents at H-PT meeting

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton-Portage Township Schools Board President Amanda Massaway talks with Houghton High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets after their presentation at Monday’s board meeting.

HOUGHTON — Cadets from Houghton High School’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program showcased their activities in a presentation to the Houghton-Portage Township Schools board Monday night. 

The program has 82 cadets, 29 of them in their first year. JROTC is not intended to recruit students for the military, said Cadet Maj. Ty Crisman. Instead, the JROTC mission statement is to motivate young people to be better citizens. 

“We establish this by offering lots of options for leadership as well as personal development,” said Cadet Lt. Col. Sarah Jaehnig. The command structure within the JROTC gives many students a chance at leadership roles. The group also gets many opportunities for community involvement, such as its Veterans Day assemblies or maintaining veterans’ graves.

Curriculum covers numerous disciplines, said Cadet Command Sgt. Billy Knewtson. In decision-making, they use an interactive video of a situation involving a school bully and evaluate the outcomes. Other units instill knowledge about basic first aid — splints, tourniquets, CPR — and life skills like map-reading and using a compass. In other units, they learn about archery and nutrition.

Every Friday, students go to the gym for physical training. On Mondays, they get into uniform and do drills. 

Cadets also compete in a range of activities. The Raiders team competes in a series of challenges that test strength, endurance and problem-solving, such as quickly building a safe rope bridge. 

Other teams include archery, marksmanship and a drone and robotics team. This summer, the JROTC also plans to launch the CyberDefender cybersecurity class.

New this year, the JROTC also began a scuba class, with one classroom session and two full diving sessions. Following that, the students led a community service event where they taught people with disabilities how to scuba dive.  

In other action, the board:

• Approved a resolution to name the baseball field after John Bostwick. Bostwick, who died in 2019, helped start Houghton’s baseball team, which he also coached. A dedication ceremony will be held in early May during the John Bostwick Memorial Tournament. 

• Heard from Superintendent Anders Hill the district’s spring head count was 1,480 students, the same as in the fall. It contributed 10% of the blended count, which is used to determine how much state aid the district gets. He and High School Principal Tiffany Scullion also met with enrollment officers from Michigan Technological University to learn about weighted grade-point averages, which factor in the difficulty of the class. More information will be presented at an upcoming committee of the whole meeting.. 

• Approved Copper Country Association of School Boards award recipients. The winners will be notified by mail ahead of the upcoming awards ceremony.

• Approved the list of spring coaches. It includes Madison Mattila, who will coach the school’s first girls varsity soccer team to compete in the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

• Approved summer projects. About $300,000 of work is planned, including lighting and carpet for the auditorium and the resurfacing of the high school gym. 

• Approved allowing Upper Great Lakes Family Health to apply for a grant on behalf of Houghton High School/Middle School. UGL is looking to add a student wellness clinic at the middle/high school. 

• Approved the Return to Learn and Continuity of Services Plan. The state informed the district it must have a plan in place through September, when the reporting period for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds ends. The plan should come to the board for approval one more time in August, Hill said.

• went into executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss the emergency operations plan update. 

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