Olympic Heights Inaugurates U.S. Marine Corps JROTC Program

JROTC cadet Marcus Rivera undergoes uniform inspection by Col. Ingersoll.

photo by Devin Fuller

JROTC cadet Marcus Rivera undergoes uniform inspection by Col. Ingersoll.

Olympic Heights kicks off the 2015-16 school year with the introduction of a new Marine JROTC program. At the head of this program is Colonel Alvah Ingersoll, who has seen 31 years of military action in the Marines and was in the lead battalion to enter Iraq in 2003.

With about 100 students enrolled in the class, it helps that Ingersoll has four years prior experience teaching JROTC at the collegiate level at UCLA and USC.

When asked to describe the JROTC program Ingersoll said, “This isn’t a math class where if you get ten problems and you get eight right, you get an 80 percent; if you get ten problems and do eight right, you`re [going to] do it again until you get them all right.”

Ingersoll breaks down the course into four major components: academic, physical fitness, military activities, and an air rifle shooting program.

The academic portion involves the students being graded on their knowledge in such areas as military history and map reading. The activities include uniform days and marching. The ultimate goal of the class is to teach students, “leadership, and citizenship, and to provide college and career exploration.”
Whether the students want to continue a career in the military or college, this course is designed to teach students qualities and qualifications for their future. Qualities such as responsibility, honesty and leadership, for example, are taught partially through the JROTC`s promotion system for the students.

To start the year, students were assigned leadership roles based on their grade level, but later on in the year they will be assigned through promotions by doing well in and out of the class. However, just as leadership roles can be given, they can be taken away as well.

The students are judged on a three strike offense system. Strike one is a warning, strike two is a loss of leadership role, and strike three is removal from the class. The colonel is actively checking on his students` behavior by contacting their teachers as well as consulting other students in leadership roles.

Over the next few years, as the number of students enrolled in the JROTC program increases, the OH program will be able to compete with other JROTC programs such as the Navy program at Boca High. Although the class has high expectations, the colonel says, “The only way to fail is to not try.”