ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - For the first time in more than 20 years, Altus High School no longer has a JROTC program.
Since the mid-1990s, the JROTC program at Altus High School has been a great asset for students.
“ROTC was a very good experience. It taught me leadership, it built my character to make me a better person, I learned a lot from it and it’s a lot of things to use for the future career-wise,” said Altus senior Jordan Guyton.
This school year, that program is no longer available because the district could not fulfill the requirement set forth by the Air Force. Each program is required to have either 100 students, or 10 percent of their total student body, enrolled in the class.
“We’ve been as low as 40 and the closest we’ve been lately is up to 80. So, finally, they just cut our program. It was very disappointing to us, we understood why, because there are other districts around the nation that wanted the program, they’ve been in line to get one and we just could not meet the minimum criteria,” said Altus Superintendent Roe Worbes.
Worbes said the Air Force also requires all programs to have two instructors.
“Last year we were only able to get one. The Air Force provides those candidates for us and it was a challenge to get someone qualified, who is retired and wants to come to Altus,” Worbes said.
The district has been on probation for the last eight years. As recently as this summer, the staff was still working with Altus Air Force Base and our state’s legislators to try to find a solution other than losing the program.
“It just wasn’t a class that a lot of students wanted to take. It’s a great class for a certain niche of students, it was a great program, a great opportunity for students that wanted to take it. We just couldn’t get 100 students at Altus High School that wanted to take it. Part of the issue is we do offer so many options that it limited the number that could take it,” Worbes said.
Fortunately, for those who are interested in JROTC, an aeronautics class is being offered that is somewhat similar.
“Altus Air Force Base over a year ago donated flight simulators to us that had nothing with the ROTC program. We used them in the ROTC program, but they weren’t a part of it. Even though we’ve lost the ROTC program we’ve been able to keep the simulators, Altus Air Force Base let us have those and we’re the only high school in the United States that have them,” Worbes said.
Guyton went through three years of the program before losing it before his senior year. He said the loss will certainly affect future students.
“It’s going to be a major miss for a lot of people because there are some people that were looking forward to doing it that don’t get the opportunity and now they have to look for something else to do,” Guyton said.
Worbes said the program could come back in the future, but they will have to have a guaranteed 100 students in the class before they can apply.