JROTC provides leadership training

June 29, 2009

by Ka’Britney Forch

High school students from six states and 33 schools overtook the Ruston community this summer in preparation to become leaders in all aspects of life.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Summer Leadership School offers students the opportunity to deal with a peer group in a subordinate atmosphere, a course in which participants will become more confident in themselves.

“This isn’t basic training. This is a citizenship course; recruitment is not a part of our mission,” Maj. Dan Coffel, director of the Summer Leadership School, said. “I care what kind of women and men they will become in the future.”

SLS is an eight-day program that takes place in the month of June each year.

Coffel said Cadet Training Officers are up a lot earlier and average about three hours of sleep a day.

The cadets reported to Personal Training each morning, and training activities until nightfall each day. The cadets are up from 4:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Coffel said the school has been running for 35 years, and he hopes that the program will continue to stay at Tech.

“SLS used to take place in Shreveport at Barksdale Air force Base, but some facilities were lost and we began doing it here in Ruston,” Coffel said. “Our plan is to continue for years to come unless the dorms are torn down, which I hope doesn’t happen.”

Coffel has worn the Air Force uniform since 1960 and retired a few years ago with a little more than more than 20 years of service. He has run the SLS program for a little over 25 years and has been working with the JROTC at Haughton High School since 1996.

“I enjoy being with kids,” Coffel said. “I enjoy seeing them succeed and grow as individuals some students I had in high school are about to graduate from college; they are all my kids.”

Andrea Villar, administrator for SLS and a senior aviation major, is no stranger to SLS. Villar said she attended the school with her twin sister a few years ago. She makes sure everything runs smoothly and keeps track of where and what the cadets are doing at all times.

“SLS is run by 50 instructors, three administrators and 26 CTOs from Tech Detachment 305, which consists of Tech, Grambling and Monroe students,” Andrea Villar said. “I love what I do. SLS is designed to foster citizenship, team building, leadership and building self confidence.”

Denise Villar is the vice commander of SLS and also a senior aviation major. She has been a part of this program for five years and once walked in the same shoes as the cadets she now trains.

“I went through SLS myself. I love training cadets. That is why I keep coming back, seeing them develop as a person and as a leader, it’s awesome,” Denise Villar said. “They beg to stay and love it after they leave. We get a connection with the cadets. It’s a great thing; I love being a mentor to them.”