Low enrollment leads JROTC to Del Mar


Rachel Moody

JROTC leaders check the uniforms of lower ranked members.

Laura Heffernan , Arts & Entertainment Editor

Facing a drop-off in enrollment, Branham’s JROTC program will move next year to Del Mar.
In recent years, both Leigh and Branham students came to Branham for the program. Due to low enrollment, however, the program will be moved to Del Mar High School where all three schools will meet for the program.
With around 40 students enrolling next year Branham’s program enrollment won’t meet the minimum enrollment needs of at least 100 students. The JROTC program has to meet a requirement not only for the school, but also for the Marine Corps. Because the Marine Corps pays for the uniforms, equipment and structures, the district programs will merge.
Maj. Richard Ruiz, who runs the district JROTC program with Gunnery Sgt. Steven Mobley, attributes the diminishing enrollment due to misinformation, as students may avoid joining because they don’t want to go into the military.
“This program itself was not designed to get people into the military, but to give them those hard leadership skills,” Ruiz said.
Freshman Antonio Lopez says some of these possible hardships include students having to sacrifice lunch time to bus over to Del Mar.
“I think that might be the main portion of why people who want to joining might be affected,” Lopez said.
Even with hardships ahead, JROTC students and leaders believe that this transition will overall be beneficial for the program. Both access to resources and curriculum for students is expected to improve.
Junior Leo Golden expects to see improvement in the quality of commitment from cadets.
“Random cadets will decrease a little bit, but none of us really care,” Golden said. “That just means that only the most dedicated cadets are going to be there.”
Ruiz adds that the bus ride allows time for the cadets to become closer.
“They sing on the bus, they talk, it’s like a field trip,” Ruiz said. “I think the vibe, because of that camaraderie, is so strong and close.”
With more classrooms at Del Mar than at Branham, there is an opportunity to divide up the curriculum. Currently, the same curriculum is taught to cadets of each year. With three portables, the curriculum could be split up allowing different years of cadets to learn new material, upperclassmen could even be taught how to train the lowerclassmen.
The larger space for the program will also allow for it to receive more resources.
“We’re going to have a little base with pull-up bars and portables,” Golden said. “There’s going to be a little section of the campus designated for us.”