Long Beach students protest cuts to West Harrison JROTC program

Long Beach students protest cuts to West Harrison JROTC program
Students were ready to defend their JROTC program (Source: WLOX)

The decision to stop Long Beach students from participating in West Harrison High's JROTC program came as a shock to cadets.

"It's really hurting me because for me I came up from...I don't know...I was fighting a lot, and this year I really improved. Getting involved in a lot of stuff and really doing something with my life," said Kaylann Thompson, a Long Beach student, "It's just really not fair. It's not fair."

The Long Beach and Harrison County school districts had an annual agreement to allow students at West Harrison to participate in choir at Long Beach, and Long Beach students to participate in West Harrison's JROTC program. That agreement ended this year when West Harrison started its own choir.

"The things they teach us, you can't learn in just any regular class. This is something special, and taking it away from us is just a bunch of missed opportunities, students with so much potential and all that just wasted," said Gatlin Williams, a Long Beach student.

In a statement from Harrison County Superintendent Roy Gill stated, "Long Beach High seniors will be allowed to finish the JROTC program at West Harrison High in the upcoming school year." That's not good news for the underclassmen. They won't get to finish the program.

The students who showed up to protest the decision were not on Monday night's agenda. Since there is no time for public comments during a school board meeting, students weren't allowed to address the board with their concerns.

"After the few minutes we spent in there, I felt that they didn't really give us a lot of attention," said Dyllon Hadaway, another Long Beach cadet.

The board did acknowledge the students for coming to the meeting, and Roy Gill said he's spoken to the Long Beach superintendent Larry Ramsey about the issue. The students say they will make sure they're on the agenda for the next meeting on June 8th.

Long Beach school district officials say they are trying to find a way to start a JROTC there, but there are a few things needed including a financial commitment from the school board and a military branch to sponsor the JROTC post. They will also need space and resources for the program, which differs depending on the branch.

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