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Blue Angels Pilots Dazzle with Words and Wings

By Yosha Huang

Oct.22 2010

Blue Angels pilots visited the school two weeks ago and inspired Cardinals to reach for the sky and serve their community.

On Oct. 8, crew members of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, gave a 45-minute presentation during Mods 1-2 in the auditorium. The group included Captain Ben Chapman and aviation technician Taylor Farrish.

The event started off with Captain Chapman’s speech emphasizing teamwork and the importance of giving back to the community. “You guys are the future,” he said. “We take pride in shaping the next generation, so get an education and contribute to this great nation.”

The presentation was inspiring to some students. “After the experience, I have gained a greater appreciation of them,” sophomore Karen Yang said. “Although there are inevitably some environmental drawbacks due to Fleet Week, the existence of aerobatic teams plays an important role in society, representing the U.S. Navy.”

Others were motivated by Chapman’s speech to take action. “They encouraged us to join the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” junior Cory Tung said. “And inspired me to do more volunteer work.”

The strict training, which includes 120 practice flights and many months of internship in addition to prior flying experience, impressed the students. “They truly deserve the attention they get,” senior Miriam Pollock said. “One thing I was surprised to learn was that the pilots serve only two- to three-year terms.”

The goal of the visit and outreach is to show the community a tiny piece of the military field. Now flying at 35 cities and over 70 shows each year, the team of 16 officers and around 130 technicians performed in the city this year from Oct. 7 to Oct. 12. Among the countless mind-blowing tricks the pilots have mastered is the tight diamond-formation of Fighter/Attack-18 Hornets flying with an 18-inch separation.

Although the event was not a JROTC-sponsored activity, JROTC teacher Doug Bullard arranged the visit. Blue Angels staff members contacted principal Andrew Ishibashi offering this opportunity, according to Bullard.

Prop. V: Sending a message to the Board of Education that San Francisco wants RO

By Caitlin McKewan

Oct 17, 2008

Prop. V gives voters the opportunity to support schools in continuing the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, a plan that is present in 1,645 schools nationwide and serves 281,000 students, of which over 1,400 are San Francisco high school students. The measure is only an advisory measure, which will indicate how the city’s voters feel about the program, and does not force the school district to either maintain or eliminate the program.

JROTC is a successful program in San Francisco schools. 98 percent of cadets go to college right after high school. It is also a successful physical education program in which cadets have a higher passing rate in the high school fitness exam than students in the general physical education program. According to a voters’ guide Web site (, "JROTC gives students an opportunity to experience the military system before making the decision to join." Keeping JROTC, a program that is very popular among parents and students, would help decrease the number of families that are removing their children from the school district.

Even if the proposition passed, the district would not be compelled to continue the program because it is neither run nor controlled by the school district, and it costs approximately $1 million for the school district to fund the program. These funds could be better spent on other programs for non-JROTC students. Also, the program was originally intended by  the Pentagon as a recruitment tool, and recruitment of under-age high school students is a violation of international human rights laws. By voting against Prop. V, San Francisco can continue its opposition to the expansion of military services and activities, especially in schools.

Supporters: School board members Jill Wynns and Norman Yee, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
Opponents: School board members Daniel Kelly, Mark Sanchez, Sarah Lipson, Eric Mar, and the American Friends Service Committee

JROTC No Longer Qualifies for Credits to Graduate

By Sol Granados and Bonnie Tong

Sep. 26,2008

Students enrolling in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program will no longer receive credit for physical education after a Board of Education resolution last summer. Because JROTC courses no longer count as physical education credit toward graduation, students who initially joined JROTC expecting to cover the PE requirements are now required to enroll in regular PE classes in addition to JROTC, if they choose to stay in the program.
 Interested students can still enroll in the JROTC class for elective credit, according to Senior Army Instructor Matt Cohen. “The school administration has been very supportive in helping us work with students who have full or busy schedules,” he said.
However, students who have seven classes, including PE, no longer have room for JROTC. Many students are saddened to leave the program. “I've gotten once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like trying on the military uniforms, learning about map reading, orienteering and sharing experiences that will never be forgotten,” sophomore Jackie Tong said.
On June 17, the school board considered a resolution proposed by board members Norman Yee and Jane Kim to end PE credit for the program. The school board gave only a 24-hour notice for the meeting, which did not have an official start time. 
The board deadlocked the resolution 3-3, due to Kim’s absence. Customarily, the resolution would have failed because of the tie. However, former school board member Dan Kelly told the board that the rules don't actually say a tie vote kills a resolution, according to a June 26 article in The San Francisco Chronicle.
The school board voted on the issue again on June 26, and the resolution won 4-1. At the revote board members Kim-Shree Maufas and Hydra Mendoza were absent, and member Jill Wynns cast the lone vote against the resolution. Board members Yee, Kim, Mark Sanchez and Eric Mar voted for the resolution.
JROTC no longer counts for PE credit because it does not does not conform to California’s standards for physical education.
High school physical education standards cover eight areas of competency across three standards: motor coordination, cognitive understanding and social skills. The eight areas covered throughout both years of high school P.E. are: team activities, gymnastics/tumbling, combatives, aquatics, physical fitness, rhythms/dance, individual, and dual activities, according to the district Web site (
JROTC covers some of these standards, but not nearly all of them.
Prior to the school board’s resolution to remove physical education credit from JROTC this summer, it had resolved to eliminate the program entirely after the 2008-09 school year. On Dec. 11, 2007, the Board of Education resolved to extend the program as an elective class through spring after the JROTC Alternative Committee requested the extension to allow sufficient time to develop and implement alternative programs.
Proponents of JROTC have put Proposition V on the November ballot to “support the right of students to have academic and after-school program choices, and declare it policy to offer voluntary JROTC programs and to reverse the action by the Board of Education to terminate the program.”
Some students believe the program should not be removed at all because it has been beneficial to them. JROTC helps students “gain confidence and skills,” third year JROTC student junior Amanda Lee-Low said.  “It helps encourage students to step out of their comfort zone,” she said. “It helps you become a better person.” 
Lee-Low, who currently serves as sergeant and Delta Company executive officer, will be teaching leadership skills, principles, and first aid classes this spring. She said the program motivated her to become a leader. “It's important for students to teach other students because part of being a good leader is being able to teach others to be good leaders too,” she explained. 
Peer teacher and fourth year JROTC student senior Jessica Lam agreed that the program enhanced her education. JROTC “helped my public speaking,” Lam said. “ I used to be a shy ninth grader.”
According to a July 8 article in The Chronicle, JROTC has lost about 400 members. It used to draw about 1,600 students a year until its future became unclear.

JROTC Places Second Overall at Competition

By Jenny Eng

June 2,2008

 Precision and perfection were the keys to victory in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps annual 91st competition held on Saturday May 17 in the Presidio. The drill platoon, girls’ drill team and boys’ drill team competed against Lincoln, Galileo, Mission, Washington and Balboa, placing second overall behind Lincoln.     Under the command of senior second lieutenant Lauren Chu, the 23-member drill platoon performed a nearly perfect six-minute drill, which they had been practicing since early February. The team was judged on marching, sharpness and togetherness. They never missed a beat or step, always staying on rhythm. Unfortunately, a few slightly messy turns meant the platoon took second place behind Balboa’s first.
    With no seniors on the boys’ drill team, junior commander Warren Kong took charge. With only two years of competition experience as opposed to the usual three years for a commander, Kong faced a hard start in the beginning. “We had a lot of setbacks this year,” Kong said. “Two people dropped from the team and (the executive officer and I) have less experience than all the former commanders.”
However, this lack of experience proved to be no problem for the boys’ drill team. The team showed off their command of the competition through unique formations and precise moves in handling the guidon, or flagged stick. The only flaw to their drill was one guidon drop, which meant a major deduction from the final score that might have cost them first place.
The competition was tough: Every team brought their A-game with new moves. Two Washington cadets lifted their commander into the air using two guidons set on their shoulders, and Balboa’s drill team performed a portion of their drill without guidons, which made them stand out. Yet Lincoln’s striking roll-off motions and perfect drill proved best. The Cardinals took third place behind Lincoln and Balboa. “The results are questionable,” Kong said. “The judges had a different perspective of what a perfect drill is.”
    The last portion of the 91st competition was the girls’ exhibition drill team competition. After recently winning the Miss Drill/Dance USA competition on April 27 in Valencia for the second year in a row, the team was ready to take back the bell and the title from the Galileo Lions who beat them last year. “We were more confident,” senior commander Jenna Mariano said. “Practices intensified and the new team members were motivated.” Using old-school melodies from songs like “In A Dream” by Rockell and “Where Are You Tonight” by Coro, the girls stood out above the rest with their strong voices, melodies, formations and beats.