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Service fitting for JROTC

For the last few years, students graduating from Suffolk Public Schools have had to complete and document 50 community service hours in order to graduate.

Most students have gotten them done in a timely fashion. Some have squeaked them in at the last minute. But it’s safe to say the students in Nansemond River High School’s Air Force JROTC will not be in the latter category.

The cadets are raising money toward installing a new well at a primary school in Uganda, which is serving a refugee camp where there are 763 children. They raised part of this money by helping out at the Knights of Columbus Suffolk Council 7363 tree lot in exchange for a donation, and they are doing multiple other projects to raise money as well.

This is the sixth year in a row the group has raised money for a water project in the developing world. They also do a coat drive, canned food drive and blood drive, participate in the wreath-laying at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, sponsor students in Haiti and more.

It’s hard to imagine how these students fit so much community service into their schedule. At the rate they accomplish these projects, it’s a safe bet that they are done tracking their service to meet the 50-hour requirement after just a year or two. That doesn’t, however, mean they are done serving their community; they continue with these projects not because they are required for graduation but for more altruistic reasons.

Master Sgt. Kevin Young said the community service is important for his cadets not only because of the requirement but also because of what it teaches them.

“I think students ought to learn how to give of themselves,” he said. “I try to tell my students, take care of others and you’ll be taken care of. That’s my philosophy, to go out there and help others.”

That kind of philosophy is exactly the reason the requirement was implemented, and we love to hear of the many students who are simply tracking what they would have done anyway and then going above and beyond to serve the community.