Cassville JROTC now 
raising school's U.S. Flag daily

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Pictured from left are Col. Chad E. Sparks, JROTC students Chance Mitchell, Tori Cole and Jordan Brant, Cassville High School Principal Jeff Swadley and Maintenance staffers Lennis Periman and Jack Barber. Traditionally, maintenance staff have raised the flag on campus each morning since the school was built in 1995, but now, for the first time ever, the students will have that responsibility and honor. Julia Kilmer

Students the first in Big 8 Conference to perform task

Three Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and Cassville High School students were recently chosen to raise the U.S. Flag each morning at the Cassville High School campus.

Traditionally, this task has always been done by maintenance staff, but now, students have been given the responsibility and the honor. It is also a first in the Big 8 Conference, as Mindi Artherton, communications liaison for the district, said there is no other school in the Big 8 that has students raise the U.S. Flag each morning.

JROTC students Jordan Brant, Chance Mitchell and Tori Cole begin to raise the U.S. Flag last week at the Cassville High School campus. The students were recently chosen to raise the flag each morning, the first students in the Big 8 Conference to do so. Traditionally, maintenance staff has completed the task. Julia Kilmer

Students Tori Cole, Jordan Brant and Chance Mitchell all now meet 8:30 a.m. each school day, before boarding the bus to attend JROTC training at Scott Regional Technology Center in Monett, and follow a special procedure to raise the U.S. Flag and two others.

"We've been raising the flag since 1995, when the high school was built," said Lennis Periman, who has worked in maintenance for the school district for 28 years. "We take care of the flag. If there's a half-mast, we adjust it. I think it is a good deal and something for them to be proud of."

"It should have been going on a long time ago," said Jack Barber, who has worked in maintenance for the district for five years. "I think it's a great thing for students to respect the flag. There needs to be more involvement with the veterans.

"Students don't understand what their elders have gone through. This helps them understand."

Mitchell, Cassville High School senior and a second-year cadet in JROTC, joined in memory of his grandfather, who served in the Vietnam War, and in honor of his brother who is currently serving in Australia.

"The American flag has been flying in our country for hundreds of years," Mitchell said. "It is an honor to be responsible for flying the flag at my own high school."

Cole, a junior, joined JROTC this year and is interested in serving in the National Guard or Army upon graduating. She later plans to pursue a career in education.

"It's a great experience," she said. "It helps you know how much the American flag means to you. I also am doing it for my brother, who is serving in Guam."

Brant, a senior, is also a first-year JROTC member and wants to become a meteorologist, but first plans to join the U.S. Air Force.

"When I first heard about the opportunity, I got really excited," he said. "I love doing it because it's a huge honor."

All three students train under Senior Army Instructor Col. Chad E. Sparks to ensure they follow proper flag-handling procedures and technique while raising the flag. Sparks, an instructor at Scott Regional Technology Center, will instruct the students for one week. They will then begin raising the flag without assistance.

"Having the [Cassville] cadets in charge of flag detail is just an example of what we try to instill in our cadets, to give back to our community," Sparks said. "I applaud Cassville High School for taking the first step in utilizing our cadets in supporting their schools. We teach all our cadets flag etiquette in our Army JROTC curriculum, and have also taught it in some elementary classrooms.

"This is an opportunity for them to put that knowledge into practice. They will take what we have taught them, and combine it with what the [Cassville] staff will teach them about their particular flag pole and its mechanics. It is important for all of our students to know that service members have defended our flag and many of them paid the ultimate price for our freedom and for us to be able to fly our flag."

Principal Jeff Swadley is excited the students have been given the opportunity.

"We are very proud of Tori, Jordan and Chance and know not only will they do an exceptional job, they will take this honor seriously," he said. "This gives our students an opportunity to take ownership in what is happening at our school, teaches them responsibility and instills love for country."

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