Ready, Aim, Fire!

By Kids for Kids, Corpus Christi, Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Outdoors, Sports

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     On May 6, 2016, our Nueces County 4-H Trap and Skeet Club held their annual competition at Corpus Christi Pistol and Rifle Club, home to the Nueces County group. Over 270 youth competed in skeet, trap, whiz bang, and sporting clays, a record number of young gun enthusiasts for this event.  My brother, Lane Zamora, and his friend, Kaden Strey, participated in this year’s event and had a great time!

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     They are learning how to shoot skeet and trap, skills that make for more accurate shooting while hunting game.  They also learn more than that.  The 4-H Trap and Skeet Clubs primarily focus on gun safety for kids.  The participants take the Project ChildSafe Pledge, which reads:

     I Hereby Promise:
  • I will not handle guns without permission from a grown-up that I know.
  • I will never play with guns.
  • I will not go snooping or allow my friends to go snooping for guns in the house.
  • If I find a gun, even if it looks like a toy, I will not touch it; I will tell a grown-up I know right away.
  • I will obey the rules of safe gun handling.

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     The club also helps them be more disciplined and practice the self-control required for responsible firearms use, which helps them in their everyday lives, too.   They learn the safe and ethical use of firearms and understand that knowing how to handle a gun will prevent gun accidents.  For my brother, it is something that he and my dad enjoy doing together. What he learns about shooting a gun he also uses to shoot a bow.  Even I sometimes go along with them and take part in the hunt, something my mom won’t do even though she always goes to the 4-H shooting practices and competitions.  Our family knows the importance of being responsible gun owners.

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Taylor Zamora is a 7th-grade honors student at Flour Bluff Junior High.  She enjoys spending time with her family, riding her horse, playing sports, playing her clarinet, and hanging out with her friends.

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Observe Science Outdoors at the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve

Corpus Christi, Education, Front Page, Outdoors

The following is a public service announcement:

     Looking for the blockbuster event of the summer? Join the superheroes looking after our little corner of the galaxy. The Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center is hosting the first O.S.O. Guardians summer youth program. Children ages 5-14 will Observe Science Outdoors throughout the 8-week program. These hands-on week-long programs will introduce participants to local species, environmental issues, and provide a safe and supervised opportunity to explore native habitats.

     This program runs June 13-August 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, with aftercare available at nearby Oso Recreation Center. Each week will also include an off-site field trip with partner organizations.

     ONLINE REGISTRATION will be available now until June 1, 2016, at www.ccparkandrec.com (click ‘Register Online’). The cost for each camp is $125 per camp per youth.

For more information, call the Parks & Recreation Department at 826-PLAY (7520), email Sara Jose at SaraJ@cctexas.com, or visit www.osopreserve.com.

Thanks Texas Parks & Wildlife Department!

     We are excited to announce that we have been awarded a Community Outdoor Outreach Program (CO-OP) grant from TPWD that will allow for scholarships during our summer O.S.O. Guardians program! The application will be available on our website for interested campers and guardians. These scholarships will include full tuition for a handful of students each week to attend the program.

After care is available until 4 p.m. each day at the nearby Oso Recreation Center, and transportation will be provided. This is free of charge to ALL students, even if they do not receive a scholarship. Please make sure to note this need in the appropriate registration question. Registration is available online.

Scholarship applications will be accepted by email to SaraJ@cctexas.com or at Corpus Christi City Hall, 1201 Leopard St., 3rd Floor, Parks & Recreation, CC, TX 78401.  Applications are due two weeks before each program begins.

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Flour Bluff ISD Offers Many Summer Programs in Academics and Athletics

Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page

In just a few short weeks, summer break will begin, and the students will find themselves free of the daily school routine.  For some, this will mean days of doing little or nothing.  For others, it will be a time to take up a new sport, sharpen skills in a particular area of study, or simply stay involved with friends.  Flour Bluff ISD may have just the program.  Below is a list of the programs approved by the Board of Trustees to be made available to FBISD students this summer:

Summer Programs 2016

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Happy Belated Birthday, William!

Education, Front Page

     William Shakespeare, whose birthday is celebrated on April 23, will forever live in our hearts and minds, even if we’ve never read his works. Lines from his plays roll off the tongues of even the most uneducated, and the list of words made commonplace by the bard is impressive.  There is much debate on Shakespeare actually coining words, but most authorities agree that what was conversational language of the time may have been lost had ol’ Will not included them in his writings.

According to Macrone in Brush Up Your Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare as the first to use these words, among others: “arch-villain,” “bedazzle,” “cheap” (as in vulgar or flimsy), “dauntless,” “embrace” (as a noun), “fashionable,” “go-between,” “honey-tongued,” “inauspicious,” “lustrous,” “nimble-footed,” “outbreak,” “pander,” “sanctimonious,” “time-honored,” “unearthly,” “vulnerable,” and “well-bred.”  (Source: “Shakespeare’s Coined Words Now Common Currency,” National Geographic, Oct. 28, 2010)

     Shakespeare’s use of unique phrases, whether uniquely his creations or not, have withstood the test of time.  Take, for example, these phrases from Brush Up Your Shakespeare:

• Eaten out of house and home
• Pomp and circumstance
• Foregone conclusion
• Full circle
• The makings of
• Method in the madness
• Neither rhyme nor reason
• One fell swoop
• Seen better days
• It smells to heaven
• A sorry sight
• A spotless reputation
• Strange bedfellows
• The world’s (my) oyster

     On his birthday and on all days, people from “all corners of the world” (also from Shakespeare) help us to remember the man and his work simply by – well – talking.  Happy belated birthday, William!

 

 

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Oso Bay Wetlands Park Is Great Place for Kids and Adults

Corpus Christi, Education, Front Page, Outdoors, Teachers' Corner

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     “Look at the giant bird!” squealed a four-year-old girl from the backseat.  She had just laid eyes on the towering metal structure of a great blue heron holding a fish in its mouth.  The children at the Greenhouse Preschool were on a field trip to the Oso Bay Nature Preserve and Learning Center.  Their teacher, Christy Zamora, is a firm believer in letting kids learn through being in nature.  Sara Jose (aka Ms. Sara), the recreation coordinator at the center must be a believer, too, because she gave the little ones a day of learning they won’t soon forget.  It quickly occurred to me that the best way to see the new park is through the eyes of a child.

     Ms. Sara led the little ones to a shady spot just beyond the play area for a little story time.  There she read What Kind of Turtle Am I? and talked with the children about looking at characteristics of animals to group (classify) them.

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     Then, Ms. Sara had the children pick a partner.  She gave each pair a color card.  “You and your partner will be on the look out for your color in all that we see today,” she said.  Then, they set out on their hike through the park.  How excited they were to see every shade of green, purple, red, yellow, white, and brown as they looked at plants, flowers, insects, and birds!

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     The children followed their leader down a winding path that made them ask, “Where are we?”  “Where does this go?”  Just as they were certain that they were lost, they spotted the long wooden and steel walkway leading out to the hawk watch area.  Suddenly, the hot, thirsty, tired tykes had a burst of energy.  When their feet hit the walkway, they could not help but run all the way to the end.  There, Ms. Sara had them act like the birds they observed, classify wildlife from the area by playing a classification game, and waddle like ducks as they left the hawk watch.

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     The next part of the field trip led them to the play area.  There they ran up the hills and slid down them on the giant, blue slides.  They spun on cattails, climbed into a birdhouse, walked on lily pads across the pond, and had lunch in the bright sunshine.  It was a wonderful day for all!

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A Great Book for Dog Lovers

By Kids for Kids, Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

OwenThe following book review was written by second-grader Owen Beseda.  His favorite pastime is BMX bicycle racing.  He is currently ranked 4th in the state for his age group.  He also loves science and has advanced to the regional finals in science fair twice.  He loves dogs, especially his own, Emma and Bingo.  Owen lives with his mom, dad, and little brother.

 

   I just finished Call of the Wild by Jack London.  It is about a dog Buck who was kidnapped and sold as a sled dog in a severely cold northern territory.  He fights for his life fiercely and grows stronger.  He even becomes a leader of his pack.  When Buck, a St. Bernard and shepherd mix, hears the howls of the wolves, Buck realizes he must one day answer this call of the wild.  The reader follows Buck on his journey filled with excitement and danger.  Some of the humans in his life are kind, but most are mean to him.  All dog lovers would like this book, so would anyone who likes a good adventure story.

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Old Time Farm Shepherd
Farm Shepherd and St. Bernard Mix (Buck?)

 

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Craft Training Center: Building the Future

Business, Corpus Christi, Education, Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

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     “My child is not cut out for a four-year university.”  This is the battle cry of parents whose children love to be outside, enjoy working with their hands, and can’t bear the thought of sitting in a classroom every day.  That’s where schools like the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend comes in.  The students who successfully complete the programs offered at the CTC leave high school ready to go to work at jobs that pay well, offer great benefits, and provide much needed skills in their community, across the country, and around the world.  On April 1, 2016, The Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend (CTCCB) hosted the 2016 SkillsUSA State Championships in Welding, Masonry, Plumbing, and Electrical. Exhibits plus a Mobile Crane and Welding simulator were on site for educators, students, and local industry.  With the smell of barbecue in the air, students from around the state competed for prizes and scholarships while parents, community members, and industry specialists looked on.  What a treat it was to watch these young people work hard to do a job well!

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     Dr. Michael J. Sandroussi (Ed.D, University of Texas Pan American, MS, Corpus Christi State University, BS, Texas A & I University. NCCER Certifications: Primary Administrator, Master Trainer, SME Core) serves as the president of the center.  He, along with a highly specialized administrative staff and instructors who have Journeyman level experience and are NCCER (The National Center for Construction Education and Research) Certified, turn out scores of highly skilled craftsmen every year.  However, this won’t be enough to meet the needs of the next five years.  Sandroussi expects a deficit of 35,000 skilled craftsmen in South Texas by 2020.  He is not alone in his thinking.  According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the shortage is already being felt in every state in the nation and affects both residential and commercial project completion times.

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    “The industry is hiring people at quite a strong clip, but at the same time, contractors are saying they can’t find the folks with the skills they want,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist at Associated General Contractors of America. “They’re having to pull in people from other industries or people that haven’t done it before, which isn’t always something you can make do with.”
 
     According to the Manufacturing Institute’s analysis of the US Department of Labor statistics, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.There are two major contributing factors to the widening gap – baby boomer retirements and economic expansion. An estimated 2.7 million jobs are likely to be needed as a result of retirements of the existing workforce, while 700,000 jobs are likely to be created due to natural business growth.  In addition to retirements and economic expansion, other factors contribute to the shortage of skilled workforce, including loss of embedded knowledge due to movement of experienced workers, a negative image of the manufacturing industry among younger generations, lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers, and a gradual decline of technical education programs in public high schools.”
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For students who don’t mind working hard, staying drug free, making a good wage, and learning a skill for life that can lead to financial independence, then this shortage could be seen as a great opportunity.  A four-year degree is not for everyone.  Not every high school graduate should be pushed down the traditional college path when other great options exist.  Training centers like the CTCCB offer an affordable, fast track to being a contributing member of society.  Becoming a skilled craftsman or an artisan is something of which to be proud and something that can open doors.  Many craftsman go into business for themselves, while others use their skills to earn money for a traditional college education.  For me, being married to a master bricklayer and stonemason, who has knowledge in all the construction trades, has saved us thousands of dollars over the years because he can do the work himself, something not many people can do.  Plus, it makes me swell with pride when we drive past a building or a house or a fence, and he humbly says, “I built that.”  Craftsmen leave their marks for all to admire.

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You’re Invited to the Big Event!

Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page

FBISD Foundation

Big Event

 

 For More Information, Contact:

Dr. Alicia Needham

694-9220

Get Tickets Here

Cost: 

Table Sponsor $1000 (seats 8)

Individual tickets $100

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Preparing your Child for Kindergarten

Education, Front Page, Teachers' Corner

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     It is hard to believe that it is already March again. Where has the time gone? For parents of young children, many are anxiously anticipating the start of kindergarten in a few months. They may be flipping through flash cards, helping their child learn to write his name, working on kindergarten readiness computer programs, teaching him to tie his shoes, or any other number of tasks geared at making sure the child is ready to start school. However, many parents must work and are faced with the daunting question of, “Where will little Johnny be going to preschool?” So parents begin visiting schools, taking tours, doing interviews, getting on waiting lists, putting down deposits, and praying that little Johnny gets into the most prestigious preschool in town. At this point, as a preschool teacher, I want to pull the emergency brake on this runaway train and prevent it from crashing and burning! How did we get to this point? Parents now view preschools the way they once did colleges. The biggest problem is that these children are 3, 4, and 5 year olds. They do not have career paths laid out yet, nor do they need to do so. The million dollar question is: How do we ensure that children are prepared for kindergarten while still allowing them to be kids?

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     We live in a world that is very different from when many of us were growing up. We once spent hours playing outside with our siblings and friends. We didn’t have cell phones, iPads, computers, or handheld game devices. Our televisions didn’t have thousands of channels from which to choose, and toys didn’t fill our houses to the ceiling. Kids created games to play with each other outside. They rode bikes, climbed trees, made mud pies, collected insects, and lay in the grass soaking up the warm sunshine. It was during these fun-filled hours that kids learned to problem solve because they knew that going inside to ask for help might end the game. This also taught them how to get along with each other when they disagreed on something. They relied on their language skills to help them resolve disagreements so that they could get back to playing. These play times did not have to be scheduled as play dates and were not interrupted by little Johnny having to be at soccer practice, Tae-Kwon-Do, swimming lessons, piano, or baseball. Now, we are always in a hurry to get from one activity to the next with our children. There is no down time for kids to simply be kids. We have over-structured our lives and the lives of our children, and by doing so, we have created stress for everyone involved.

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     When I taught kindergarten, I saw this same phenomenon occurring in the classroom. Teachers, forced to squeeze as much learning into a school day as was humanly possible, found only 20 minutes of unstructured free play in a seven-hour day for their kids. The rest of the time was spent teaching whole group and small group lessons at a break-neck pace inside the confines of our classroom walls. In those five years, I saw technology go from 1 or 2 computers in a classroom for station time to class sets of iPads, COWS (Computers On Wheels), SMART boards, SMART tables, and technology labs with all of the bells and whistles that you would expect to see in Best Buy and Apple stores. Kids were no longer connected with each other, the teacher, or the outdoors. We were wiring them to be connected to a device at all times. Yes, you heard me right. “WE” were wiring them that way. Kids are not born this way. They learn it from us.

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     These devices have replaced reading to your child, counting with your child, singing with your child, going on walks with your child, cooking with your child, exploring with your child, talking to your child, and bonding with your child. Yes, a child can play some amazing academic games on their devices. Yes, you can even download books on the device that will read to your child. Yes, they can download all of their favorite songs and sing along with them. When used as a supplement and in extreme moderation, all should be fine. The problem occurs when the devices start to guide our children – and us – in our daily lives.

     What if I told you that there is one tool that you can use to teach your preschooler everything that she needs to know to be ready for kindergarten? Better yet, what if I told you that it is free and that we all have access to it any time we want? I assure you that I am not a con artist or a scammer. I simply bring you the truth. The one thing that all children need and benefit from is nature. The great part about this is that nature is all around us. It doesn’t have to come in the form of a forest or something that you would see on a postcard. It is a backyard, a field, a garden, a pond, a farm, a beach, a park, or any other outdoor area with plants, animals, and natural landscape. According to the National Wildlife Federation, “The average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen.” As a result of this we are seeing childhood obesity rates increase as well as the stress levels of children. We are seeing more children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD as well as depression.

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     When I was teaching kindergarten, I saw more and more of this each year. In 5 years I never had a class where at least one child wasn’t being medicated for one or more of these disorders. At first I was oblivious to the possible causes and how I could become a solution, but over time it became apparent to me. My students started school at 7:45 and dismissed at 2:45. During that time they had one 20 minute recess where they were allowed to play outside. Lining up for recess was always the noisiest and most anxious part of the day. They were chomping at the bit to get outside. When the doors opened they would flood down the sidewalk and onto the playground. The air was filled with the sound of laughter and squeals. Then, in the blink of an eye, the 20 minutes was up. I would blow my whistle and wait for the children to line up. The second we walked back in the building that carefree feeling was gone. I began to understand that being outdoors was the key to a child’s soul. When they were outside they were at ease and free. They allowed their senses to take over and guide them. They didn’t worry about being right or wrong because in nature you are always learning something new from your observations and experiences. No one is judging you.

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     After spending five years in the public school system, teaching and observing children, I came to the realization that I no longer believed in how I was being asked to teach children. I envisioned what I believe to be a better way for children to learn. Please hear me when I say that I am not condemning anyone for teaching in other ways. I know that teaching is an art and that each teacher has her own style. I, too, have tried various methods in my teaching career, but what I have found is that the one thing that always works is nature.  In fact, I read a book a few years ago called Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. He writes in detail about how times have changed and how children no longer have a relationship with nature. He explains the physical and mental changes that we have seen in children in the past few decades and how they are related to a lack of direct experiences with nature. Louv also goes on to explain how we, as parents and teachers, can close this kid-nature gap that has become the norm.

     I’m sure that right now many of you are thinking, “Dirt?! Bugs?! I don’t like any of those things.” First, don’t panic. You don’t have to hold the bugs or roll in the dirt (although if you’d just do it once you’d probably find that you like it). Second, have an open mind and allow yourself to engage with nature using all of your senses. If your children or students see you enjoying, relaxing, and exploring when outdoors, then they are more likely to do the same. On the other hand, if they see you being fearful of things in nature, they too will likely become afraid of things in nature.

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     The main thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to expose children to nature. Maybe you are not yet a nature enthusiast. Don’t worry. Use your time outdoors to develop this love of nature with your child. They will not only form bonds with the natural world around them but with you as well. Children will follow our lead and once they feel comfortable, they will venture out on their own to explore.

     At this point, little Johnny’s parents are scratching their heads and trying to see how having daily experiences in and with nature are going to prepare their sweet little Johnny for kindergarten. How will he ever learn the alphabet, how to count to 20, his letter sounds, how to write his name, his basic shapes, and all of the other skills that we expect young children to learn? As the teacher, I can sense their anxiety and take the opportunity to remind them what the true meaning of kindergarten readiness is entering kindergarten ready to learn. Yes, knowing letters, numbers, shapes, sounds, and colors are beneficial, but that is only half of the equation. Our job as preschool teachers is to ensure that our children are able to walk into a kindergarten classroom and do the following:

• Follow directions
• Focus attention
• Take turns
• Share
• Control themselves
• Solve problems with words rather than aggression
• Work independently
• Work well in a group
• Have age-appropriate social skills and the ability to make friends
• Communicate with other children
• Communicate with adults

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     The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) did a study about what it means to be school ready. Part of the research was a survey where they asked parents, childcare professionals, and school teachers what skills children needed to be considered school ready. Over 75% of the 2,100 people surveyed said that the most important things were “the confidence to be in school without their parents and strong social skills to interact with children and adults.” The survey found that the least important elements were the basic academic skills. Therefore, while the trend in society seems to be moving more in the direction of academic readiness for preschoolers, research shows us that we need to spend our time helping children develop the social skills necessary for school and life.

     This can be accomplished by having some adult-led large group activities that are active and short. The most effective way to help children develop these skills is through unstructured free play. During this time, it is important to give children the freedom to choose what they play, with whom they play, and the materials with which they choose to play. We must also provide children with ample time for their free play to unfold and develop. The 20 minutes allotted for our kindergartners to have free play doesn’t even allow them time to scratch the surface. In order for children to be able to take full advantage of this time, we need to allow for an hour to an hour and a half each day. This time can take place indoors and/or outdoors. Either way, we must ensure that we have an appropriate play space available to the children.

     The indoor environment should have ample space for children to move freely. There should be areas for busy and noisy activities as well as areas for quieter ones. Children should have the freedom to rearrange the play area during the free play time. This space should also have a variety of objects for the children to use in their play. The objects should vary in size, material, texture, and purpose. The more open-ended the toys are, the more the children will use their imaginations to create.

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     The outdoor environment should have all of the same things that the indoor environment does -as well as more space to run, jump, climb, and play. Outdoor play equipment can be very expensive to purchase, but what I have learned is that it is not always necessary. Be creative in your outdoor spaces. Use pavers to outline a sandbox. Have baskets available with natural materials such as rocks, acorns, leaves, pinecones, sticks, shells, and other natural playthings. Take scrap lumber pieces and allow children to build with them. Collect old tree stumps for your backyard and just watch how quickly your children begin to climb on them, jumping one to the other.

     When we give children the opportunity to freely explore and play in these environments, they begin to develop their language and their social and emotional skills. When problems arise, the children will learn how to solve them usually on their own. It is crucial that we stop swooping in to save them right away. We must first observe and assess the situation. Give them time to process the problem and find a solution. If you see that they are struggling, then offer assistance and suggestions. As time goes on, they will become more independent in their problem solving and more confident in their ability to do so.  For many this may seem like the children’s learning is limited in an environment where the child is given so much free choice. How can they possibly be learning anything if all they are doing is playing? I see proof of it every day in my preschool.

Related article:  Texas School Sees Immediate Results

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Anchors Aweigh: The Story of Flour Bluff NJROTC

Corpus Christi, Education, Flour Bluff, Front Page

NJROTC 5The following article was written and submitted by Cdr. Armando Solis, Senior Naval Science Instructor at Flour Bluff High School.  Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1993, Commander Solis was selected as the inaugural Senior Naval Science Instructor at Flour Bluff High School  and was tasked to commence the start-up of the unit in June of 1993.  From day one, the program exceeded all expectations.  It was selected as the best new program in 1993, and has been recognized as a Distinguished Unit every year since 1994. (Follow links to view their record, more pictures, and a documentary film by Jack Hodges and Jacob Martinez, also entitled “Anchors Aweigh: The Story of Flour Bluff NJROTC.”)

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Twenty-three years ago this June, the doors to the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training (NJROTC) program at Flour Bluff High School first swung open. It was a quiet grand opening, with only the inaugural instructor for the unit being present for its inauspicious beginning. The school did not know what was expected of them, and neither did I as the Senior Naval Science Instructor. Shortly after my arrival, pallet after pallet of material commenced arriving, and only my son and I were there to receive it. Even though it was summer, it didn’t take long for inquisitive future cadets to start checking out the activity that was taking place in the new NJROTC spaces. As quickly as those first recruits poked their heads into the building, they were just as quickly put to work, and established as “plank owners” of the nascent program. They were an energetic bunch, and they had total faith in their new instructor. Inwardly, I hoped that their faith in me would not be misplaced. We all worked hard to ensure that when school started in the fall that our new home would be ready to accept every student that wanted to undergo a new and challenging adventure.

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NJROTC is a student leadership laboratory. The development of those leadership skills is facilitated through the use of military drill. The rationale for that approach is that drill is a great way for students to learn to work with a diverse group of individuals and then to mold them into a cohesive, focused unit. One difficulty in executing that plan is that this Naval Officer, in particular, (and Navy officers, in general) had not drilled since first entering the Navy almost 22 years previously. How was I going to teach drill? Knowing my limitations, I checked at the local Marine Reserve Unit at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and was fortunate enough to find a Marine Staff Sergeant assigned to that unit who had just come off an assignment as a Drill Instructor at Marine Boot Camp. He volunteered to help me out two or three times a week.  As he helped instruct my students, he was secretly instructing me. I quickly found out that I truly loved the beauty that drill presented, and as a consequence I soaked up as much as I could, as quickly as I could.

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As strange as it may sound, I found I enjoyed dissecting the mundane and innocuous details of the Marine Corps Drill Manual. This new-found passion led to a logical conclusion; I became the coach for the Flour Bluff NJROTC drill teams. I pushed drill team kids extremely hard. I may not have fully understood that what I was asking these kids to achieve was nearly impossible for them, and they were too naïve to realize that what I was asking was probably beyond their capabilities. The result, however, was that they felt that if I was asking for them to accomplish something, then it followed that I must believe that they could achieve it, and in most cases they did. They reached heights that no first-year program had ever achieved, and most programs have never come close to achieving what these kids did in their first year.

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Flour Bluff NJROTC became an Honor/Distinguished Unit in its second year, even though the Navy had originally mandated that a minimum of three years was required to attain that status. For the next 21 consecutive years, we have maintained Distinguished Unit status. Also, in the second year, Flour Bluff NJROTC competed and won its first State Championship, and never relinquished that title for the twenty years that followed. In 1997, Flour Bluff NJROTC won its first Navy National Championship, a title it kept for the ten consecutive years. In 2000, Flour Bluff NJROTC won its first All Military Service National Drill Championship, the first of a total of 16 All Service National Champions that it has won since. In 2013, Flour Bluff NJROTC won the Navy National Cyber Patriot Championship in Washington, D.C. In 2015 and once again in 2016, the Flour Bluff NJROTC Academic team qualified as one of eight finalists for the National Academic Bowl Championships in Washington, D.C. Twice the Navy League selected our program as the Best Navy JROTC program in the nation.

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We have had cadets receive appointments to the Naval Academy, to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, to the Air Force Academy, and to the Merchant Marine Academy. Scores of cadets have earned ROTC scholarships to Harvard University, MIT, Rice University, University of Texas, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, and many other colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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I will never take credit for the success that our program has enjoyed. Even the most skillful of sculptors cannot create a masterpiece without first being provided with a magnificent piece of marble with which to work. Our success starts and ends with our students. I give much of the credit of our success to those kids who first joined me in starting our program back in 1993. They were willing to work hard; they were willing to persevere through extremely tough times; and they demonstrated a dedication and a commitment that has become the bedrock of our program. The legacy that those young men and women created has been passed down from one generation of Flour Bluff cadets to the next. Our kids do not know how to quit, and because of that determination, Flour Bluff NJROTC will always shine as the example that others strive to emulate.

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