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  • Writer's pictureDickinsonian Rams

AFJROTC In Jeopardy; Can we help?

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

By: Sara Khiri

The Air Force “Junior Reserve Officer Training Program” (JROTC) has been a pillar within the William L. Dickinson community for the past 23 years. The JROTC’s mission is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community. The program teaches leadership, discipline, and accountability for the cadet students and has instilled accountability and maturity within our own students. Currently, the program risks possible closure due to inadequate facilities.

Jersey City faced a substantial amount of rainfall and flood risk throughout the summer of 2023, as well as recently Friday the 29th when Hudson County faced coastal floods. The JROTC classroom has faced a substantial amount of water damage (leaks) due to rainfall and plumbing problems, ongoing for many years, and now reaching its worst state. Students and staff have complained of leaks for many years, specifically in the JROTC classroom, and the New Gym, but the problem still exists.

Following major rainfall the JROTC storage room (Logistics) experienced damage to uniforms, and equipment. The ceiling collapsed due to water gushing from the ceiling pipes, and damaged over 300 uniforms and other expensive equipment. Administrators provided support by paying for the dry cleaning of the uniforms, however JROTC faces the risk of failing their next inspection if quick action is not taken to fix the leaks and remove the mold from the walls and floor.

The main damage occurred over the summer, and engineering and custodial staff have been trying to fix the problem, but it has been a very slow process and no completion date is set as of yet. Although the main damage occurred over summer break action was not taken until the first week of school. Administrators have assured JROTC officials the issue would be fixed, however many fear that since no major progress has occurred the damages will not be fixed in time.

Once a year the Air Force inspects every school within the United States, and cadets also perform a unit inspection, which goes to the Air Force JROTC Headquarters prior to the annual inspection. This process makes sure that inventory and equipment is accounted for, maintained properly, and inspected. The Air Force also inspects the school facilities to ensure all uniforms and equipment are properly stored in a climate-controlled room and locked. Dickinson will be inspected on January 17th, and there is a concern repairs will not be done in time.

The holiday season is fast approaching with many holiday breaks, and there is no specified timeline of repairs in sight, students are fearful of failing the unit inspection. We asked Cadet Major Micah J. Lakandula, Squadron Commander about the possible closure of the JROTC program and she said, “I’m upset that the program has been running for 23 years and I refuse to let the program be shut down over a facility issue. Covid caused a major struggle that we worked hard to get out of! Our cadets have put their hearts and souls into this program and it would be a shame for it all to be wasted.”

What is the excuse for an issue that has risen concern for many years in the past? The building has fallen short in maintenance in many areas however this program, which has single- handedly changed the course of many students’ lives, needs assistance and support. In the meantime AFJROTC can still pass inspections if they are able to set up their classroom and logistics department in another part of the school, such as the 2nd floor library which is currently vacant and rarely used.

Principal Casillas commented on this matter Monday October 2nd "At the moment we have found an alternate location for their office space and storage. It is in the process of being set up. Once we are closer to completion I can share the details."

The Dickinsonian is hopeful that a solution will be found amongst administrators. A follow up will be provided October 9th however we ask that students and staff stay aware of these issues and support their peers in putting their foot down for a safer building.

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