With the amount of effort Loudoun school district leaders have devoted to providing state-of-the-art opportunities to STEM and vocational students, it came as a surprise last week that the county lags behind its peers in another important area.
In a region where so many residents have participated in military service, Loudoun has relatively few offerings for young people interested in careers in the armed forces. About 200 students participate in the Navy JROTC program housed at Loudoun County High School and many more are turned away, school leaders said last week.
On its face, that situation may not be surprising; many of the school district’s specialized programs have more demand than space. However, a look across the county border indicates that other school systems are doing more to prepare students for these important careers. Prince William County, with relatively the same enrollment as Loudoun, operates nine JROTC programs. Larger Fairfax County offers eight. Loudoun has one.
Establishing a new program in space that will become available at Dominion High School once the new Academies of Loudoun campus opens is a good start to addressing the demand. Just as school leaders should be working closely with representatives of Loudoun’s high-tech companies to develop the curriculum and training opportunities to be offered at the academies, there is an ample pool of military talent available to help expand JROTC offerings. In both educational offerings, there are more than tax dollars available to help them succeed.
On Monday, many in the community paused to reflect on the commitment and sacrifice demonstrated by America’s military men and woman over the course of the nation’s history. Expanding the training opportunities for students at the high school level is one more way to honor that calling.