JROTC under new leadership

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Col. Chad Sparks

The JROTC program at Scott Regional Technology Center, in Monett, has a new Senior Army Instructor for the third time in 12 years.

Colonel Chad Sparks, a 30-year Army veteran, has taken over the SAI position at SRTC. Col. Sparks began his military career in the ROTC program at the University of Central Arkansas Conway and basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He continued the ROTC program at Fort Knox and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Col. Sparks furthered his education in officer basic training, with an emphasis in combat engineering.

After the completion of his training, Sparks began as a member of the Arkansas National Guard Battalion. He was a teacher/coach for 12 years at two different schools in Arkansas while remaining active in the guard. Col. Sparks retired from active duty in 2008 when he began working with JROTC programs in Memphis, Tenn., and Lonoke, Ark. Sparks began to focus on his retirement, building a home in Shell Knob when the position of SAI became available in Monett.

"Monett has a well established program, with such great community support," said Sparks. "It was just the right move for me to continue working with the JROTC."

The JROTC began in 1916 with the passage of the National Defense Act. Under the provisions of the Act, high schools were authorized the loan of federal military equipment and active duty military personal as instructors. The JROTC has changed from its primary directive as a source of enlisted recruits to a program devoted to the moral, physical and educational uplifting of American youth.

"We are not here to recruit for the military, but to promote better citizenship through training and discipline," said Sparks.

The SRTC covers a wide area of the surrounding community, bussing in students from 14 area schools.

"We have a great group of cadets," said Sparks. "I've been very impressed with the support that's been given by the communities."

JROTC cadets are very involved with the community, participating in parades, homecomings and other local events. Cadets also compete against other JROTC programs in color guard and drill team.

The Cadets first meet will be Nov. 16 in Monett. This will be the first meet held in Monett with eight surrounding schools in attendance. The JROTC will also be in attendance for the opening program of the GRIP boys home Corn Maize, Honor the Veterans program as well as the Relay for life opening ceremony.

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