Four students dressed in fatigue pants and T-Bird T-shirts marched toward the flagpole in front of Coronado High School earlier this week using a U.S. Marine Crops formation they dug up by reading an old book.
The students are part of a 20-member Marine Crops JROTC Club that began two years ago and just this year was offered as a Zero Period class. Members perform flag duties and other community service, but because they are only a club they have been relegated to basic activities.
That is until this fall, when Coronado High School becomes the first school in El Paso to have a full-fledged U.S. Marine Corps JROTC program.
“The closest Marine Corp around is Albuquerque,” said JROTC Capt. Osman Reyes. “We wanted a different experience at our school.”
For some, the experience will lead to ultimately joining the military.
“I’ve always wanted to join the military and fight for my country,” said Daniel Meza Jr. “I knew JROTC would be a good way to get started.”
Jorge Almaraz got involved for the leadership experience.
“I’m learning a lot of about leadership and the history of the military,” he said. “I’m working a lot with PT, too.”
Math teacher Glenn Adams, retired military and a former Army recruiter, has been working with the students and will continue until the new JROTC teacher comes on board in the fall. Adams is impressed by the focus of the student and their desire to learn and lead.
“They take command,” Adams said, looking over at the four students. “This is student led.”
Before Adams began working with the students, much of what they learned came from their own research about the Marine Corp.
“They learned how to do Drill and Ceremony from a book,” Adams said. “Marines do it differently than everybody.”
The students have been doing community service and recruiting potential cadets from the middle schools feeding to Coronado, hoping to grow the class to at least 50 members this fall. They also have connected with the retired USMC vets from the 19th Riffle Company to learn more about the Marines.
Freshman Michael Vinson’s father told him about his positive experience in JROTC in high school, which prompted him to join.
“I wanted to make friends and memories,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot out of it. I’m going to stay in it all four years.”