By Hannah Becker, MCPSS student intern
Mobile County JROTC cadets learned STEM and leadership skills at the fifth annual JROTC STEM Leadership Academy recently at Spring Hill College and the University of South Alabama.
The camp, held June 3-7, drew 155 cadets from all twelve high schools and two other high schools, Chickasaw and Satsuma. With a theme this year of advanced manufacturing, cadets performed STEM challenges such as building a robot, along with JROTC leadership challenges such as rappelling, land navigation and drownproofing.
“Rappelling is definitely my favorite because you get hang off the side of a building and you get to do what a lot of people don’t get the privilege to do,” said Aleck Dees, a rising junior at Murphy High School.
The cadets also went on several site visits, including BASF, SSAB and the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile and the Hyundai plant and Dannelly Field in Montgomery, and heard from a variety of speakers, including Col. Michael Stinnett of the U.S. Army Cadet Command and actor Gary Sinise, who portrayed Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump.
The camp, designed for students entering their ninth or 10th grade year of high school, was led by a team of professionals, including military personnel, MCPSS teachers and college professors.
An advisory team consisting of local business and community leaders helped the camp become a reality, said Susan Pruet, president of STEMWorks LLC, who helped create and run the camp.
“I hope that the cadets leave with different self-value,” Pruet said. “I also hope that they leave with the knowledge of good paying jobs and knowledge of those jobs.”
Along with Mobile County Public Schools, sponsors of the camp were Spring Hill College, the University of South Alabama, The National Science Foundation, the City of Mobile, the Mobile County Commission, the Society of American Military Engineers, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Coast Guard, REC Foundation, Hyundai, STEMWorks LLC, the J.L. Bedsole Foundation Impact Innovation and Leverage, SSAB, Mobile Fire Department, Alabama Power, Olin Corporation, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the University of Southern Mississippi, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors, BASF, SAVC, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Memorial Gardens, Alabama Army National Guard, Alabama Air National Guard, and the South Alabama Veterans Council.