Mt. Zion High's JROTC unit helps beautify road

Most people may not willingly pick up somebody else's trash, but several Clayton County teenagers are happy to do it.

Mt. Zion High School's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program has been cleaning almost one mile of road in Clayton County for four years, through Georgia's Adopt-A-Highway program, and has, continuously, been recognized for the efforts, according to Sandra Davis, aerospace science instructor at the high school.

"It ties into one of our core values — service before self," said Davis, who oversees the JROTC program.

She said the unit picks up debris along Mt. Zion Parkway once a quarter. The Adopt-A-Highway program is led by the Kitty Hawk Air Society, an honor society for cadets, she explained. The Kitty Hawk program is sponsored by the Air Force Sergeants Association, a federally chartered, non-profit organization, she added.

Carlean McWright, cadet commander for the Kistty Hawk Air Society at Mt. Zion High, said she is proud to be a part of such a project, specifically because the road is near the high school.

The 18-year-old senior said the unit uses the cleanup as a time for fellowship, where cadets sing, chant and bond with other cadets. "We are not doing it for ourselves," said McWright. "We are doing this for our community."

Aerospace Science Instructor Davis said the pick-up trek for the unit on Mt. Zion Parkway begins at Burger King, in Jonesboro, and ends at CarMax, in Stockbridge. "I think it has improved tremendously," said Davis, of the road's condition in that area.

In addition to the road, the JROTC unit also cleans up areas at the high school, she added. Although JROTC units are not required to adopt a highway, the Mt. Zion cadets decided it was necessary to make a difference in their community, said Davis.

Officials at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama have recognized the unit for its clean-up efforts, with Distinguished Unit Awards, including one for the 2010-2011 school year, as well as an Outstanding Unit Award for the 2009-2010 school year, she explained.

"It has really impacted the students, because they get a sense of taking pride in their community," said Davis.

She said the unit also received Keep Clayton County Beautiful awards, in 2007 and 2008.