CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Clovis High School Junior ROTC member Michael Longacre opens a gate Tuesday for a vehicle at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
Members of the Clovis High School Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps are donating time from their summer vacation this week to stand sentinel at the gates of the High Plains Junior Rodeo at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena.
It is part of their commitment to earn service hours that will go toward ribbons, rank promotions and even a trip to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“They’re a helping hand. Whatever we needed them to do, they’re an extra pair of hands,” High Plains Junior Rodeo coordinator Wilma Fulgham said.
“(JROTC is) a good program. It’s good for them and it’s certainly a big help for us.”
It’s just one way the youths invest in the community through the JROTC program. They also assist in placing flags on graves for Memorial Day, help out with dinners hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and work at high school football games.
Michael Longacre, 16, is in charge of the group of five, making sure cadets are there to cover the rodeo competitions and logging their hours.
Longacre said he enjoys being involved in JROTC and sees it as a step toward his goal of military service.
“I love the structure. In ROTC they say do this now and do it right,” he said.
“It’s good experience. It’s blood, sweat and tears —especially on the drill team.”
Walking the perimeter of the Curry Mounted Patrol Arena in the noon heat, the youths were upbeat and jovial as they latched gates.
Michael Acosta, 17, is in his third year with JROTC. He said he joined because his older brothers told him about the program.
“I love it. It’s a good way to get good friends,” the rising senior said.
Balancing JROTC with his devotion to the swimming team, 16-year-old Brody Hawes said he doesn’t get to donate much of his schedule to service work but said he enjoys the time he does give.
“I’m looking at going in the military. I still haven’t decided,” he said of his goals.
And working at the rodeo has taught them a few things too, Longacre said.
“Always wear boots. Don’t wear shoes or you’ll get stuck in cow crap and lose your shoe,” he said with a laugh.