Members of Air Force JROTC come to KSU for competition

Ryan Wilkinson

While many Kent State students spent Saturday drinking green beer, about 180 high school students from around the Ohio area descended on the Student Recreation and Wellness Center with more than a party on their minds.

They were here to compete.

The students, members of the Air Force Junior ROTC program, were at Kent State to take part in the annual JROTC Field Day. Participants came from eight different high schools to compete in challenges designed by the Air Force Senior ROTC cadets at Kent State.

Those cadets also acted as mentors and escorts for the JROTC units during the day.

“Everyone is really enjoying themselves,” said Nick Kulesza, a junior Air Force ROTC cadet. “That is what we are striving for.”

The Air Force’s JROTC program is designed to promote the ideals of good citizenship, responsibility and self-discipline, while also introducing students to the basic lessons of air and space science.

The program also acts as a recruiting tool for both the university and the Air Force.

Before coming to Kent State, Kulesza was involved with a JROTC unit at McDowell Senior High School in Erie, Pa.

“I came to JROTC Field Days my junior and senior year in high school,” he said. “I had a lot of fun.”

Kulesza also said participating in the JROTC program was one of his deciding factors in choosing to come to Kent State.

“I knew Kent had an Air Force ROTC program, and that is something that I wanted,” he said.

The focus of the day’s events, though, was to bring the high school students together for competition and for the chance to get to know one another.

“This is really good for the students,” said Carlos Orozco, a retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. and an adviser for East Technical High School’s JROTC program in Cleveland. “It lets them see that they are normal. They can meet someone and say, ‘I have that problem too,’ or ‘I struggle with those same things.’

“The program also teaches them respect and responsibility,” he said.

Kortnee Price, a student participant from Trumbull Career and Technical Center, enjoyed the event and felt like it helped to bring her unit closer.

“It was a good time to compete,” she said. “We really learned how to work together as a team.”

Trumbull Career and Technical Center won the day’s Tug-of-War competition.

The overall winner of the 2007 Air Force JROTC Field Day was Seneca East High School from Attica.

“The event was absolutely smooth,” said Orozco. “It was a great day.”

Contact ROTC and Greek Life beat reporter Ryan Wilkinson at [email protected].