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Episode 252: What is the Mustang Battalion at Herriman High School?

It’s called the Mustang Battalion at Herriman High School and it is the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps or JROTC program in Jordan School District.

On this episode of the Supercast, meet students involved in the program and find out how it is teaching them valuable leadership skills which will last a lifetime. Also, find out what the JROTC program IS and what it IS NOT, as they celebrate their first full year at Herriman High.

Audio Transcription [Music]

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. It's called the Mustang Battalion at Herriman High School, and it is the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or JROTC, program in Jordan School District. 

On this episode of the Supercast, meet some of the students involved in the program, and hear how it is teaching them valuable leadership skills that will last a lifetime. Listen and find out what the JROTC program is and what it is not, as they celebrate their first full year at Herriman High.

[Music]

We're here with Sergeant Wilson at Herriman High School. You've completed one year of teaching JROTC here at Herriman High. How does it feel to be at the end of year one?

Sergeant Wilson:
It's exciting that we've made it this far. You know, it's been up and down. A lot of work getting into starting the program. We're excited for what's going to happen next year as the cadets grow and we get more cadets. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about your experience first of all and what led you here to help start this JROTC at Herriman High. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Well, this is my 11th year that I've taught Junior ROTC and going through the program and teaching and seeing the changes that it instills in students, no matter what they're doing, and the fact that they just come up and say thank you, I made it because of this class. I have a lot of passion for this program. When the principal had talked to me about starting the program here, I wanted to make sure that it started off strong because it's such a good program. If I could put an ROTC program in every high school, I would put one in every high school. 

Anthony Godfrey:
When we first met about probably a year ago to talk about the possibility of bringing the program here, you told me about some of the things students can learn from this program. There may be the impression that this is only preparation for people who are then going to enlist in the military, but there are a lot of important life lessons and qualities that students can learn as part of a JROTC program. 

Sergeant Wilson:
When I talk to parents, a lot of parents look at it and they simplify it as it's a life skills class. As we look at the different things that youth, young people that are getting ready to go out into the world need, a lot of it is just they need confidence. Confidence in themselves, the understanding of how things work, the fact that they can make change, they can make changes in their communities. And so we give them through trial and error and step by step, not only the ability to do that and the understanding of how it works, but the confidence to do that. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Yeah, giving them a sense of efficacy. I talk about that a lot, that when you work hard, when you learn things that you didn't know before and you put them in action, you can change the world and you can make an impact on the people around you. For those who are unfamiliar with an ROTC program, what type of experiences can a student expect to have in a class over the course of the first year as a cadet? 

Sergeant Wilson:
As a cadet, the first year they're going to learn a lot about themselves. Who are they? Because if you don't know who you are, it's hard for you to be an effective leader and lead others. As a leader, you need to know and understand the subordinates, the ones that work for you and you can't do that effectively if you don't know who you are.

Anthony Godfrey:
What are some of the activities that they would expect to be involved in?

Sergeant Wilson:
Oh, that's a long list. We learn a little bit about discipline because we have uniforms and stuff that they wear and a lot of it is attention to detail. What the uniform is supposed to look like so that when you go out and present the colors at a ceremony or something, you look nice, dressed, and professional. So we learn about that. We learn a lot about Teen CERT disaster medical, what to do in a disaster. This is a lot of hands-on. We learn a little bit about physical fitness. We learn how to plan a schedule. What does my schedule look like? We look at time wasters. We look at how to better organize and you basically plan your year. That's one of the fun things about ROTC is it's a program that's run by students. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you have cadets that come from across Jordan School District and from outside of Jordan School District as well. Tell me about this first batch of students that you've been working with here. 

Sergeant Wilson:
It's an amazing group. We have a senior that is graduating out of Bingham High School this year. I have a senior out of Copper Hills and I have a senior here out of Herriman High School that are some of my main key students when they came in. They just started taking responsibilities for stuff which is one of the fun things about the program. I have two students that have come from the Granite District to come over and be part of this program and looking at next year I have students that are coming from just about every school here in the Jordan District, every high school. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're going to take the listeners inside the activation ceremony. Explain what the activation ceremony is all about. This was your first to be involved in right? 

Sergeant Wilson:
This was our first. So each year we have an end-of-year ceremony that kind of is a culmination of everything that they've learned in that year. This year being an activation ceremony the cadets have learned the basics of being in the program and what it's going to take. They met those requirements to do that presentation and they actually received their flag and so they were presented with the flag saying we are an official ROTC program and you've met the requirements. So next year what's going to happen is we're going to have a change of command ceremony. And every year after this it'll be a change of command where the outgoing commander will pass on the flag to the incoming commander. 

Ceremony MC:
Ladies and gentlemen the Executive Officer of Salt Lake City Recruiting Battalion and Regional Representative for Training and Doctrine Command, Major Lucas. 

Major Lucas:
Yeah, I just want to take a few moments here. I'll make it short because I know how hard it is to hold those rifles and flags for a long period of time. I've been in there with generals are speaking but yeah JROTC I'm excited to be here. JROTC is a great program. It really teaches leadership and patriotism in our youth. It’s so desperately needed.

Ceremony MC:
Ladies and gentlemen please rise and pay the proper respect as the colors pass through the gym. 

Ladies and gentlemen approaching the PA stand is Cadet Captian Diekmann, the Commander of the Herriman Mustang Battalion. The Colorguard led by Cadet Sergeant Jacob, comprised of cadets from Copper Hills, Herriman, and Bingham High Schools.

Ladies and gentlemen, Cadets of the Mustang Battalion.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about the patriotic element of being in a JROTC program. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Well, we just had the end of school they finished up their service learning project which they set up for the community to come out and see and have little lessons on flag etiquette. We went through all the parts of flag etiquette, displaying the flag, how to show respect to the flag, and even retiring flags and what meets the criteria of needing to be retired as a flag. They like to go out and be part of parades. Veterans Day parades, Memorial ceremonies. They also got to participate in a memorial dedication of a monument in Draper for Gold Star families and so they really get to get out and be part of these different patriotic groups. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. So it's a connection to the community and a connection to their country. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, thank you very much for coming to Herriman High School and making this possible. Your bringing your experience has really helped propel this program forward very rapidly and I know it's going to continue to grow. 

Sergeant Wilson:
Thank you.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us when we come back more with the JROTC program at Herriman High School.

Break:
Does your student want to become a veterinarian, commercial pilot, programmer? Maybe they want to make a difference as a dental assistant. These are just some of the programs offered as part of Career and Technical Education, CTE in Jordan School District. CTE provides the technical skills needed to prepare students for future employment or for a successful transition to post-secondary education. Career and Technical Education provides work-based learning opportunities. We partner with industry experts to offer apprenticeships and internships with students working in the real world at real jobs while going to school. The CTE experience starts in our elementary schools with the Kids' Marketplace and grows through middle and high school. To explore all CTE has to offer in Jordan School District visit cte.jordandistrict.org today and let's get your child started on the pathway to a profession.

Anthony Godfrey:
All right we're now talking with the commander of Herriman High School's JROTC program. Please introduce yourself. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Hi, I'm Miriam Dieckmann, the commander in charge of everything.

Anthony Godfrey:
In charge of everything. Tell me what everything entails. Tell me some of the things you've been able to do as commander here. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Well, I get to oversee the teams. So like we split up who's in charge of what team and who kind of makes sure things are running smoothly, but we kind of do that together. Then we make sure events are going well. So like we had two big projects, one that Sergeant Wilson mentioned, the service learning project where we retired a bunch of flags. And then we had a different project where we uploaded and made marching videos so our cadets could have reference material to practice. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the other cadets in the class. What is it like being a part of a class like this and forming these friendships? 

Miriam Diekmann:
So a lot of it you have to put in a lot of hard work, but the friendships and family you make is very rewarding. So some people won't do their jobs and other people will have to fill in but it's kind of worth it sometimes because at the end of the day, you're all friends and so you kind of like forgive each other.

Anthony Godfrey:
It was fun to be part of the activation ceremony with you. You walked me through it in advance, helped me rehearse and we got to unveil the flag. Tell me about that. Are you excited about how it turned out? 

Miriam Diekmann:
No one had seen the flag except Sergeant Wilson so I got to be part of unveiling that. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about the activation ceremony. How did that feel for you? 

Miriam Diekmann:
I was kind of really nervous because I was like “Well, I'm already kind of like a commander but now we're having a ceremony to like make it official”. And so I felt kind of weird because it was like a lot of spotlights on me. But it was fun. And like the flag, like seeing it for the first time, I was like “Oh my goodness, like we finally have our flag like showing that we're a battalion”. It was really exciting to see it and we were all very impatient for the past week knowing that it was sitting in the classroom and then not being able to see it. We were very impatient. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're saying Sergeant Wilson can keep a secret? 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
That doesn't surprise me. The flag’s here in the corner of the classroom. It looks fantastic. It's a great design and it's something to be proud of to be here on the ground floor. What's next for you? What do you want to do from here? What has this class inspired you to do beyond high school? 

Miriam Diekmann:
So I'm contemplating joining the National Guard and from there, I don't know what I want to do. Part of me wants to go to medical school but I don't know so we'll see. I feel a copycat to my best friend who's doing the same thing but I don't know.

Anthony Godfrey:
So there's a lot of options that seem possible after being in JROTC. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So if someone is listening, what would you tell them if they're thinking maybe I should try? This it's a lot of work. I'd have to go to another school maybe for part of the day what would your advice be to them?

Miriam Diekmann:
Do it. My advice would be to do it. Because at the end of the day if you don't like it then you don't like it and you don't have to do it, but you're never going to know unless you try so you might as well do it. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And it sounds like from your experience and from what Sergeant Wilson described there are a lot of things that you'll learn and a lot of experiences you'll have that you don't expect. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Now are you a senior or junior? 

Miriam Diekmann:
I'm a sophomore. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You're a sophomore. Well, Commander you do not seem like a sophomore and you've got plenty of time to figure out what comes after high school but you're taking more JROTC next year I'm guessing. 

Miriam Diekmann:
Yes for the next two. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Awesome. Well, that's great . Thank you very much for talking with us and good luck with everything going forward.

Miriam Diekmann:
Thank you. We're now talking with First Sergeant Morris. Introduce yourself, please.

First Sergeant Morris:
Yeah, I'm Cadet First Sergeant Morris. This is my second year with JROTC and I'm the senior ranking NCL here. 

Anthony Godfrey:
So you attended Taylorsville last year I assume and then you've been here for the second year. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Yeah, so I go to school at Hunter High School and then I attended JROTC at Taylorsville last year and then I transferred here to Herriman this year. 

Anthony Godfrey:
You're following Sergeant Wilson here.

First Sergeant Morris:
Yes, I am. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I don't blame you for that one bit so we're glad to have you here at Herriman. Tell me about your experience in JROTC these last two years. 

First Sergeant Morris:
It's been lots of fun. I've learned a lot here about leadership, and a lot of life skills, and just bonding and being able to make friends and to have like another family. 

Anthony Godfrey:
It sounds like you've learned to rely on other people. How does it feel to really feel a part of this and feel connected to these folks? 

First Sergeant Morris:
It feels great because I know that I always have people to back me up and people that I can rely on to help me with what needs to get done. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about some of the disaster preparedness or other skills that you've learned. Do you feel better prepared if things go wrong?

First Sergeant Morris:
We spent an entire quarter learning about disaster preparedness. It's called Teen CERT so it's Community Emergency Response Team. So if there's any event where first responders are overwhelmed your CERT people will go and assist them. So in a large disaster such as an earthquake here in Utah, CERT. members would go out and do search and rescue and they will help treat the wounded and set up areas for people to recover. Without people doing CERT we wouldn't be able to effectively recover from a disaster.

Anthony Godfrey:
Sounds like there are some essential skills involved. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, you're obviously learning some great lessons here and doing a great job. Congratulations on the work you've done to this point and good luck going forward. 

First Sergeant Morris:
Thank you. 

Anthony Godfrey:
We're talking now with Corporal Londelius. You graduated this year. Tell me about your experience in JROTC.

Corporal Londelius:
I don't know. I really loved the program and it really gave me the opportunity to like tap into the leadership skills that I didn't know I had. I really enjoyed this program because it kind of forced me out of that safety bubble I've created over the years. And it's forced me to be able to communicate with people and reach out to my cadets to make sure they're up to date with the information we have. It's allowed me to become more confident in myself in a sense. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that. That will serve you well throughout your life. 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes.

Anthony Godfrey:
It sounds like you have learned a sense of responsibility or deepened sense of responsibility. Corporal Londelius:
Yes. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me about how that feels. You talked about making sure that things are going well for others around you.

Corporal Londelius:
Yeah. So since I was a squad leader for a little bit, I was in charge of a group of cadets and I had to make sure their grades were in check, not just mine. So I had to reach out and make sure they're doing the assignments that need to be done. It kind of forced me to not really focus on myself but my team and see how we progress as a team rather than how good I'm doing. Because now I kind of look at everything like, okay, how is this going to affect someone else though? How is this going to help them and myself at the same time? 

Anthony Godfrey:
That's a tremendous skill, a great perspective to have. What are your plans now post-graduation? 

Corporal Londelius:
So I'm planning in a few months to serve an LDS mission and then once I come back from that, I will be enlisting into the Marines.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you know where you're going yet?

Corporal Londelius:
I do not. I have not turned in any papers yet but I am getting close. 

Anthony Godfrey:
And then when you return, you want to enlist in the Marines.

Corporal Londelius:
Yeah. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Is that something you had thought about doing before joining JROTC? 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes, I've been planning to join at least the military for a while now and I just recently found out that Herriman finally has had a JROTC program. So I was like, “Okay, I'll sign up for that” and it's kind of sad because it's my first and last year that I was able to do JROTC but it's like bittersweet. 

Anthony Godfrey:
I'm sorry we didn't get it here earlier for you but I'm glad we got you on the tail end of your time in high school. So did this deepen your desire to be part of the military going forward? 

Corporal Londelius:
Yes, having been in color guard and being the color guard commander when we went to do like our first color guard, I kind of got a little emotional because seeing how the people were reacting to us presenting the flags and all that, it just kind of set me more in stone that, “Okay, I do want to serve my country. This is something I want to do in the long run.”

Anthony Godfrey:
Well, I think you have great things ahead that's really exciting. What do you want to try to do in the Marines? Is there a particular focus for you? 

Corporal Londelius:
I am focusing on going into the aviation field of the Marines but I'm not sure how that will go with my eyesight and all but as long as I'm able to serve in the Marines and serve my country on time with pretty much anything I get put into. 

Anthony Godfrey:
Fantastic. Well, best of luck with everything going forward.

Thanks for joining us on another episode of the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see you out there.

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