School program hopes to raise money for uniforms and necessary equipment

(Nov. 8, 2019) The NJROTC program at Stephen Decatur High School will hold its first online fundraiser starting Tuesday, Nov. 12, to generate additional funds for uniforms and other necessities for its cadets as well as to promote the program.

Dr. Robert Stewart, who is in charge of the school’s program, has been concerned with the dwindling number of cadets, which had caused a shortage of funds for various projects.

On the fundraiser site will be a one-minute-long video explaining why the program needs donations as well as a brief summary of what the funds will be used for.

Stewart’s goal is to raise $4,000 through this one-month-long fundraiser, though the program might need as much as $40,000 in order to fully fund the clothing, ribbons, cords, rifles, travel fees and other required facets of the program since funding was cut in 2011.

In addition, the money will go toward the construction of a permanent indoor range for the air rifle program.

“We currently do not have a place to set up a permanent indoor air rifle range for the air rifle program,” Stewart said. “I am hoping to raise sufficient funds to either purchase a stand-alone building for use as our permanent range, or to start a construction fund to help with the design and construction of a modification or addition to the school.”

“To do this would be an amazing accomplishment that I believe would be a true signal to everyone that this unit is truly ready to start making changes,” he continued.

cadets

Currently, there are 63 NJROTC cadets in Stephen Decatur High School’s program, though more are welcome to join in the second semester.

The school is required to have either 10 percent of Stephen Decatur High School’s student body be certified by the Navy, or have a minimum of 100 students in order to receive funding. However, since 2011, the number of participating students has dropped below 100, which lost the program its certification and funding from the Navy.

“The NJROTC unit here at Stephen Decatur High School when it was founded in 1995, it was fully certified by the Navy as an NJROTC unit,” Stewart said. “What that means is basically that they provided all sorts of resources and one of the most important ones at that time was financial funding.

“My goal has been to build community awareness of our problem and hopefully get back to a more positive atmosphere with the community in general,” he continued.

The school’s program was redesignated a Navy National Defense Cadet Corps, which only requires 50 or more students. Currently, the school has about 63 cadets in its unit. The program has had to request leftover or otherwise unused uniforms and equipment from nearby schools in order to provide for students who have either outgrew their uniforms or recently joined the program. 

Another way to aid the program would be to have more students join. Students can request to join the classes during the second semester, provided their current class schedule permits it.

“We have a lot of people say, ‘Well, I don’t want my child going to the military,’ but that is not what NJROTC is about,” Stewart said. “The junior ROTC program is a leadership program. We work with them so that they can develop their leadership skills so they can become more confident in their abilities.

“This will make them a better citizen and a better person throughout their lives,” he continued. “There’s no requirement for a student graduating from our program to go into the military.”

The fundraiser link does not officially accept donations until Tuesday, Nov. 12, and will run until Tuesday, Dec. 10.

“I’m just asking for the community and people to realize that helping us with this fundraiser is just another way of supporting your community and supporting the future of your kids,” Stewart said. “I’m looking to reach out to anybody who can help.”

For more information about the fundraiser, visit www.snap-raise.com/fundraisers/stephen-decatur-high-school-njrotc-2019 or call the Stephen Decatur High School NJROTC office at 410-641-3375.

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