The JROTC programs in the El Paso Independent School District are in great shape and receive tremendous support from campus administrators, the national director of U.S. Army ROTC programs said during a visit to El Paso.

Col. Michael Stinnett, who oversees all high school and college JROTC and ROTC programs in the country, visited eight EPISD campuses on Friday to meet with cadets and instructors. He inspected the programs at each school and spoke with principals and other administrators about the role of the military in education.

“I couldn’t say enough great things about the schools I’ve been to,” said Stinnett, who is based in Fort Knox, Ky. “When you have principals come in and join us during the visit, it shows me they have a lot of pride in their organization. I know it’s in great hands.”

At Bowie High School, the cadets talked about the pride they have in the 88-year history of the program at their school.

They presented him with a book about the history of the men of Company E. Company E had many of its members grow up in the neighborhood and proudly attended Bowie before serving in World War II under Capt. John Chapin, the namesake of EPISD’s newest traditional high school.

“We talked to him about the pride we have at Bowie in JROTC,” said junior Ashlie Sanchez, an executive officer in Bowie’s JROTC.

Sanchez told Stinnett about their last Orienteering competition and how the team was determined to place.

“We told the cadets that we never win anything and how it’s always other high schools that win,” she said. “I guess they took that in and  we actually got three awards this year.”

Stinnett also observed the students presenting the colors to kick off the Bowie Wrestling Tournament and attended the District drill meet Saturday.

“It’s a great honor for him to come to our schools and see the success of our programs,” said retired Lt. Col. Victor Diaz Jr., JROTC facilitator. “He’s the person we go to if we need resources or have concerns.”

Diaz was encouraged by Stinnett’s positive remarks about the individual campuses and the overall program within EPISD.

“He’s coming away knowing that were doing the right thing here and that EPISD JROTC is serious about our mission and what we do.”

 Story by Reneé de Santos |Photos by Alicia Chumley – EPISD