- School District of Beloit
BMHS’s JROTC program teaches character development
BELOIT—For 103 years, Beloit Memorial High School has been home to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Program. Beloit’s program is the oldest JROTC program in Wisconsin and just one of five programs statewide.
JROTC is a four-year elective program and part of the PACMES (Public Service, Automotive, Construction, Manufacturing, Engineering, and Science) Academy. All classes are offered on a semester schedule, and even though many might have this belief, JROTC does not recruit for any branch of the military.
Only 15 of the more than 150 JROTC classes in the curriculum are actually military related. The program teaches subjects from eight core subjects including leadership theory and application, health, wellness and fitness, civics, world geography, financial planning and current events. Senior ROTC Scholarships are available at more than 300 universities in the United States.
Major Monte Eldert and Sergeant First Class (SFC) Ronald Bartow run the JROTC program.
“ROTC has really nothing to do with the military,” Eldert told the Daily News. “We’re not a recruiting organization, or a character education program. We’re part of an academy, There’s where we fit in. There’s auto mechanics, science, engineering and all those things are part of our academy. One piece of a big puzzle.”
This year alone, the program has 135 students. Though they used to have 150, but after the academy system was broken down into four different sections, they now have fewer students. Eldert said he and Bartow wear the military uniform four days a week, and students are required to wear it one day a week on Wednesdays.
“That’s only so they know how to wear, how to put it on and take it off and how to take care of it,” Eldert said. “That’s the only requirement we have.”
JROTC has a rifle team, an archery team, color guard, sabre arch and drill team. The color guard will often participate in things like ceremonial things like parades which include the upcoming Memorial Day parade this Monday. On Friday, JROTC will be heading to Oakwood Cemetery and place flage on graves of those who served in the military.
Eldert said his main focus is getting students to graduate and help build character.
“We will encourage them and try to promote their success in whatever field that they want to go into,” Eldert said. “We have seven seniors this year. All of them are going to further their education after high school, which is a great thing.”
Senior Peiton Greenfield is battalion commander for the JRTOC and was inspired by her older sister to join the program. She has taken JROTC classes since her freshman year. The main lesson she has learned from her time in JROTC classes is leadership. Greenfield has enjoyed being more involved in class and with the color guard.
“I’ve learned that I can put myself out there,” Greenfield said. “That’s something I didn’t do as a freshman or other years. Now, when I get to college, I will feel like I’ll be able to handle it a lot better than if I didn’t do any of this.”
“I’ve made a lot of friends,” Greenfield said. “You see everyone up there on the wall over there. I know everyone there. Then, we’re going to make our own wall right over there. Even with Sergeant Major. You ever need something you can go to them or just anyone in the class. There’s always someone who can help you. It’s just a like a family.”
Greenfield will be attending UW-Whitewater this fall after graduating. She plans to study social work.
Beloit Memorial High School was named in honor of World War II veterans and dedicated in 1951. Prior to that, the high school was known simply as Beloit High School.
Eldert and former Principal Tom Johnson came up with the idea to have a wall celebrating former high school students who have served in the military. Eldert and Johnson decided that the wall should not be limited to World War II veterans and opened it up to all veterans.
“No matter when you serve, because the memorial is for veterans, not just World War II,” Eldert said.
To be included in the wall, those who are interested can send the veteran’s name and year of graduation, veteran’s picture, preferability a military photo. This information can be sent via email to email@example.com or to BMHS, ℅ Major Monte Eldert, 1225 Fourth Street, Beloit, WI 53511.