- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The public has gotten a look at the new Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program in the Sioux City School District.

The JROTC program was formally introduced Monday in a ceremony featuring some of the 150 students enrolled in it. The ceremony was the first time Lt. Col. Larry Brockshus saw his students in their uniform blues.

“It chokes you up when you see them in uniform for the first time,” he said.

The school district announced in December that it was one of two districts picked nationwide by the Air Force to add the JROTC program for the 2015-16 school year. The program is a partnership between the school district, the city of Sioux City, and other organizations.

The idea was pitched about four years ago to Superintendent Paul Gausman by juvenile court liaison T.J. Fennell, the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1VPNClt ) reports. Fennell made the suggestion so students could get an education that included reinforcement of strong character traits.

Fennell said he’s overwhelmed by the district and community response to the JROTC program.

“We’re very fortunate that we are in a community that has wrapped itself around the idea of JROTC,” he said. “Through the long, rigorous application process, the community stood up to show the Air Force how valuable it would be for us and lo and behold, here we are.”

Brockshus, senior aerospace science instructor for the program, said the curriculum consists of aerospace science, leadership, and wellness and physical fitness. Classes will rotate each year.

The program is not a binding military commitment, Brockshus said.

“Even though we are all in uniforms, this is not about making soldiers,” he said. “It’s about providing tools for the young men and women to make them more successful in their high school career and beyond.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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