By Curt Yeomans
The more than 250 members of Mundy's Mill High School's Air Force Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps ( AFJROTC) set a good example of discipline and leadership for the rest of the school, said the school's principal, Priscilla Adams.
"They are always the students who are clean-cut, well-dressed, follow the rules, and show respect to the adults in the building," Adams said. "They have made such a huge impact in terms of helping us maintain discipline in this school ... They look like soldiers when they are in their uniforms."
Cadets are dressed in uniforms every Tuesday. Cadet officers wear their uniforms every Thursday. They participate in the school's annual cleanup day on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, and they are rarely referred to the front office because of a discipline problem, said Adams.
The unit at Mundy's Mill was informed by letter on April 28, that it was named a "Distinguished Unit" for the third consecutive year. The honor is reserved for units which the national AFJROTC program deems to be in the top 10 percent of the 887 units in the nation. Programs are inspected by officials from their commending base to make sure the curriculum, facilities and unit members meet AFJROTC standards.
Mundy's Mill ability to repeatedly receive the award is particularly gratifying for seniors in the program. "It's definitely momentous to see how we went from not even being a unit to being one of the best in the nation," said Cadet Lt. Col. Anthony Rice, a senior. "It's truly inspiring."
The school's AFJROTC program was started in 2005. Prior to getting its own unit, Mundy's Mill was involved in a partnership with the program at Lovejoy High School. Mundy's Mill's is now the largest JROTC unit, of any high school military branch, in Clayton County.
The unit's cadets and faculty advisors said the quick growth of the program can be attributed to the discipline, respect and leadership cadets show in the school. Col. Raymond Sky King has a program for the unit called "Dressed to Impress,"in which the cadets have to dress in formal business clothing when they go out in public as a group.
The cadets expressed their belief that everything the unit does comes together as a single reason why the unit has grown so quickly. "I think the other students like that professionalism they see in the cadets," said Cadet Capt. Ti'ara Breland, a sophomore. "They see so many kids wearing their uniforms, so they want to wear the uniform as well."
Cadet Maj. Kristian McClendon got her inspiration to join from her older sister, Kelly. She was the Mundy's Mill's first unit commander. "Eventually, I asked her about the program, so she sat down with me and explained what ROTC is all about," McClendon said. "I decided I'd give it a try. Turns out, it was great."
Cadet Maj. McClendon, a junior, is now in charge of the unit's commander training team.
Cadet advisor, Col. King, preaches hard work and commitment to his cadets. King also said, each year, the unit builds on what it did during the previous year. "Every year, we've had the best person in the unit serving as commander," King said. "I teach them 'You want to be better than the person who came before you.' They strive to be better than previous commanders."
"Each year, the expectations rise," said Cadet Col. Montez Watts, a senior and the commander for the 2007-08 school year. "Next year, everything is going to be more intense, more challenging, and everything will happen at a faster, more critical rate."