Lincoln-Way Parents, Students Fired Up Over District Eliminating JROTC

Lincoln-way District 210's JROTC program at the district's four schools will be combined into two—and then will slowly be phased out—eliminated completely by 2018.

Incoming Lincoln-way District 210 freshmen will not be offered the same experiences as Kathy May's son Christian, a cadet in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). 

Drill team competitions, placing wreaths on veterans' graves, leadership training: all lessons Christian said have shaped him into a strong teen—and citizen. 

The JROTC program will be phased out of District 210's offerings, the latest in a string of program eliminations and reductions brought about by financial woes at the district and state level. 

"We're trying to find expenditures (to cut) that will be least disruptive (to the district," said Community Relations Director Stacy Holland. 

The 403 students districtwide currently participating will be allowed to stay in through graduation—incoming members of the class of 2018 will not be allowed to enroll. 

For May, that means Christian (a junior and her last of three children to go through District 210) will enjoy a full four years with the JROTC. But she's furious that future students won't benefit.  

"It builds character, and fosters students who give back to the community," May said. "It's just a really worthwhile program. Why this program? 

"There have to be some other options."


The program is not the first to be cut, and it certainly will not be the last. 

As budget woes have grown, the district has been slashing programs and classes for the last five years, Holland said. Others eliminated include zero hour, writing and math labs and building trades classes. 

The elimination of the building trades class was due largely in part to a stall in the local housing market, Holland said. With no new homes being built, students' interest in the trades petered out. The district also looks at students' class selections as a means of determining courses' importance to the curriculum. Administrators consider student-to-teacher ratio, and the cost to run a program or class.

For JROTC—a $500,000 program with an 11:1 student-to-teacher ratio—the decision became clear over several years, Holland said. (For comparison, most other classes have a student-to-teacher ratio of 26:1.) 

It appears the district is not alone in cutting the JROTC program—just 16 remain in Illinois high schools—four of which are those at Lincoln-way schools, she said. In the immediate future, the current program will be limited to only two of the four District 210 schools. Students still involved will be bused to Lincoln-way Central for JROTC activities, which is standard with many programs, Holland said. 

The district next will take a close look at course selections by sophomores through seniors. Freshmen will pick theirs Feb. 11–12, and administration will take those numbers into account, as well.

The numbers weren't in JROTC's favor, Holland said. 

"Because this is a high expenditure program, we've looked at reducing or eliminating it for the last couple of years," she said.

Parents of students involved aren't ready to see the program fade away, and neither are the students.

The activities create a bond and environment unlike any other organization, Christian said. The program has taught him leadership and developed his character.

"We can really just be ourselves," he said. "And most importantly, it teaches you about citizenship in America.

"We're really just like one giant family."

May hopes other parents disappointed in the program's discontinuation will come together and attempt to change administration's mind. May is invested in the program, even though she won't have any more children go through it. 

Christian is grateful he'll get to finish out his high school career as part of a program that means so much to him. 

He also intends to join ROTC in college. 

Are you a JROTC parent or student? Tell us in the comments how you feel about the program being cut.

Tracy Simons February 01, 2014 at 11:43 AM
How disappointing! My son was in ROTC at liberty this past year and was looking forward to continuing at LW west. Maybe the district should look at eliminating some of the sports programs with low student interest.
Justin gilliam February 01, 2014 at 11:59 AM
Hey dusty! Joining the military is a bad idea? Or teaching kids to prepare for it is a bad idea? Well you're an idiot. And get the hell out of America then. because you do not deserve the FREEDOM the out Soldier go out and DIE for in order to protect it so get your disrespecting ass out of the country!!! And what you call "zig zag" lines we call drill and your comment was so unintelligent it's obvious the the "zig zag" lines are way out of your IQ range
Nicole Erin February 01, 2014 at 12:44 PM
I find it odd that a course that is suppose to prepare people for the military doesn't have intensive physical training, comparable to a PE class. Anyway, people who are outraged should organize to try and increase revenue (ie: taxes) for the schools so that they don't have to close programs.
Anonymous February 01, 2014 at 12:52 PM
@TraceySimons " Maybe the district should look at eliminating some of the sports programs with low student interest" I would love to know which sports in the LW district don't have active involvement. Also, you are complaining about having JROTC taken away and making your child sad but you are willing to do the same thing to a different organization? I'm sure those children wouldn't be happy about that either. The solution is to have a mutual agreement, not sabotaging one club for another. .. @Dusty You are really not helping either side. You are just showing how ignorant people all are. You are the typical high school bully. I'm pro-eliminating JROTC for budget cuts but you are not helping. @Frank Zeimetz You are just proving to me how immature some of the students in JROTC are. Is this how you are to act in the military? I don't think so.
Justin gilliam February 01, 2014 at 01:01 PM
@nichole Erin . What you don't know is that every day we do various exercises ranging from push-ups to running a mile or two. And every Monday we do a sport of our choice and it's to help build better leadership and team building. ROTC serves a GREAT purpose.
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 01:14 PM
@anonymous, it's how I act towards a asshole who talks a lot about things they know little about. You're also a chicken shit. You made some gross assumptions and negative remarks about the kids in the program. I wouldn't want to see any programs canceled that are positive to the futures of the citizens of the community.
Anonymous February 01, 2014 at 01:18 PM
@FrankZeimetz I agree, it is only beneficial for the people who take it seriously. You on the other hand, are not one of those people.
Justin Wolf February 01, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Everyone who thinks that JROTC should be shut down can go kick themselves in the ass its a great program and it needs to be left alone
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 01:46 PM
@anonymous, do you have a point to make? Or you wanna sling dirt all day and hide behind your anonymous handle?
Jacob Tyler February 01, 2014 at 02:09 PM
Actually they did teach weather science and military history. Now granted that military history, though important does have limited applications. Weather science is however pretty useful. Yes we did learn formation, but really as someone who has been in the professional work world I can say that ultimate Frisbee doesn't help you in any way either. I played football, I wrestled, and played water polo the entire time I was in high school. Joining the program was not an aversion to avoid physical activity. It was a great program and perhaps the greatest lesson I took from it was learning about a simple concept, respect. And the other programs that they have or will be cutting doesn't help students either. No one directly from high school is prepared to actually cope with the real world. So what the school should do is offer a variety of resources to teach students about diversity and teach them skills in order to get them prepared for the real world. Cutting programs isn't beneficial to the overall education of the students. If they want to cut something perhaps they should reduce the exorbitant salaries of their overstaffed administration. Unfortunately I do not live in the district anymore so my voice realistically doesn't matter. One amazing thing about being in the program is the fact that I developed ethics especially in my work and as a result I ended up being able to own my home. This is something I probably wouldn't have learned in gym class because playing volleyball for exercise doesn't pay the bills. What I would suggest is that parents and home owners take the time to protest this action from the district and try to remove the power from aforementioned exorbitantly paid administrators whose rather than keep the program decided they would rather have an increase in their salary.
Jacob Tyler February 01, 2014 at 02:24 PM
@ anonymous, also saying the overall gpa of students in the organization was below 2.5 where do you draw this conclusion? And beyond that if someone isn't going to college, which let's face it isn't for everyone, what does it matter? How many times have you been in a situation where someone asked you what was your gpa in high school? It reminds me of this joke, What do you call someone who graduated from law school at the bottom on their class and barely passed the bar exam? The answer a lawyer. Regardless, do you really think that the overall gpa of the people who took gym class was above 2.5? Was your gpa above 2.5? And since high school have you earned a college degree and bought a house or a car? Have you set up any retirement funds, been able to provide for a family, have you you done anything worthwhile with your life? Because I can surely speak for Frank, Holly, and myself and say that we are all homeowners and started families. Maybe we did something wrong and should have taken physical education classes instead, what do you think?
Anonymous February 01, 2014 at 02:32 PM
@jacobtyler That is true. There were equally incompetent people in PE. No I am currently still studying at a university. And yes I was well above a 2.5. Everyone grows out of their teenage stages and the majority of students in ROTC do become home owners and start families. I am talking about the environment in high school. Majority of the ROTC students were social outcasts from the students who were not enrolled in the class purely for the reason that they were in ROTC. Without the class in the first place, there would be no stereotyping. I believe that if ROTC students want to keep the organization going, they should form a club rather than a class to do what they do.
Michael Vavouleas February 01, 2014 at 03:10 PM
I am an alumni of LW and the JROTC program. This program/class teaches more then most people think, it teaches young adults responsibility, discipline, team work, respect for others and yourself. A sense of pride in everything you do, service, integrity, community, dedication along with hard work. The program also plays a big part in our community for example, these young men and women go out every year and lay wreathes in the Lincoln memorial cemetery, they post colors at every home game for football and every other major event the school has, they work concessions at sporting events, they help out the VFW and many other things. All of that is done voluntarily. What other program or sport does this? This class provided me with skills that I use everyday that no other class can teach or provide. For example, I learned how to become a leader which in return I am now one of many lead techs in my job, I also learned/ gained self-confidence and if it was not for this class I would not be in the position I am in today. The program shaped me into who I am and the many others that went through this program. Taking this class away from our future leaders and service men and women is not an option that Lincoln Way should consider. To the people that have not taken this class will never understand why this is a big deal or why their are so many upset/angered people. I ask for those that are for getting rid of AFJROTC to sit in a class or go through a year of this program and maybe then you will understand, but in till then I will not respect any your decision of discontinuing the AFJROTC program.
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 03:12 PM
@anonymous, Your argument Is flawed and invalid as well as unsupported by any actual fact to the claims you have stated.
Nicole Erin February 01, 2014 at 03:25 PM
@Justin- I was just going off of what people here were saying. I was in marching band in high school (not at lincoln way, elsewhere), it was a great community and a great way to keep kids busy and out of trouble. We need good programs for kids to be involved in at all schools. But if the schools do not have adequate funding, they can't provide the programs. They have to cut somewhere.
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 04:00 PM
The Air Force funds the JROTC program.
Ty Conderoga February 01, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Gee, it looks like people feel strongly about this fine program. Quite a few passionate comments, along with a few ignorant (anon) trolls. ROTC or the military isn't for everyone, but the ones it does help, it helps a shit-ton and for far longer than any sport. This program was a wonderful gateway for some kids who somewhat lacked direction to go on and learn discipline, get an otherwise unaffordable college degree, buy a house and not only become productive members of society, but often times become pillars of the community.
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 04:50 PM
Well said Ty.
Holly Elizabeth February 01, 2014 at 06:23 PM
Anon-"majority of the ROTC students were social outcasts" please speak no further. As obviously you have not one clue. Not only are the students not outcasts they actually display this thing called generosity, compassion, and RESPECT. Perhaps you should have joined,maybe you wouldn't have turned out to be so snarky. Why don't you say that to those serving your country to protect your fanny that spent 4 years in ROTC.
Anonymous February 01, 2014 at 07:37 PM
Ok the military is whole other subject. I'm happy they're doing what they love and serving our country. But I agree social outcast was not the right word. I meant to portray that they were divided between people who took the class and people who didn't.
Jacob Tyler February 01, 2014 at 07:41 PM
@ anonymous, thankfully schools don't have any other social cliques. I mean no other cliques of people who share common interests existed in schools. And in life people don't socialize with people who share common interests, right?
Ty Conderoga February 01, 2014 at 08:09 PM
Please don't feed the trolls aka anon. Focus on garnering signatures, referendums, Senators, etc.
Frank Zeimetz February 01, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Fuck anonymous. Jake Tyler and I will be there to stand up for those kids and the program. If he's got something with creditability to contend, he can do it at the board meeting.
Richard G. Neufeld February 02, 2014 at 01:12 AM
This makes me sad, JROTC was so important to developing me into the person I am today..
Dusty February 02, 2014 at 10:58 AM
@Justin Gilliam, teaching them that the military is in any way an acceptable idea is completely wrong. You clearly have been brainwashed by their tricks as well. Why should we be teaching children that bullshit that just came out of your mouth? There is no freedom being protected by the military and if a soldier dies it would most likely make him a martyr for war profiteers or corporate profits. Teaching kids in school that if they join the army they will be protecting 'freedom" or one of the other loads of shit that came out of your mouth is completely ridiculous. Its a good thing they're canceling JROTC. Maybe if they had sooner you wouldn't have become the inbecile you are.
Justin gilliam February 02, 2014 at 11:20 AM
@dusty. I'm not gonna fight with some idiot over the internet. All I have to say is get the fuck out of America!!!! And that you need to go take an American history class so you can find out where we would be had it not been for the countless amount of Soldiers who have died to give us the freedom we have today. You are really sounding like a communist.
David H February 02, 2014 at 12:41 PM
It is amazing that people still believe the marching band cost the taxpayers money. The marching band competitions, uniform cleaning and upkeep, instructors, music, shoes, camp, hotels, colorguard, etc. is paid for by the music boosters. But don't let any facts get into the way. Also, why not just have one hour available per campus so you only need one instructor instead of multiple instructors at $100K each.
Dusty February 02, 2014 at 06:20 PM
@Justin Gilliam, Do you realize how stupid that was? "Im not going to fight with you, GTFO of the country, You sound like a communist." Ok, well i've taken American history classes I have yet to see any time in the past 50 years a soldier has died in a conflict that would somehow threaten any sort of freedom. I like the "you sound like a Communist" part of your comment. How would me saying that a class encouraging military careers is a waste make me a Communist? You know what a Communist is right? Someone who believes in a Communism a system where all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid for their individual needs. How does that relate to anything I have said at all?
Cathy Hansen Smith February 03, 2014 at 02:30 AM
I think losing this program would hurt so many kids. This program is great! My oldest son went thru the program and excelled into a great, respectful person who is now a marine and now my other son is in his freshman year with it and loves it. It teaches respect, hard work, team work, friendship, generosity to name a few. The kids have started a petition to try to save the program, please sign, hopefully we can save it! The kids really want this program to stay Here's the info on change.org Save the LW AFJROTC Program - Sign the Petition! on Change.org.
Theresa Stumpf February 04, 2014 at 11:18 AM
Sounds like some of you parents are actually going to have to suck it up and start raising your children to be productive members of society instead of paying someone else do it for you... typical response from someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too. If you don't have the time to raise your kids and instill values in them because you're too busy working, maybe you should stop popping them out...


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »