Esperanza High School’s Air Force ROTC program helps students soar

The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) always seeks out ways to provide students with diverse opportunities to become more college and career ready. One example of this is the popular Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFJROTC) program at Esperanza High School.

Started during the 2014-2015 school year, AFJROTC is an elective class open to any ninth through 12th grade student at Esperanza. It is an academic course married with a co-curricular component, similar to band or musical theater. The objectives of AFJROTC are to educate and train high school students in citizenship, promote community service, and instill responsibility, character and self-discipline.

“After serving in the Air Force for 28 years, having the opportunity to build the AFJROTC program at Esperanza has proved to be a perfect new career,” said retired Col. Robert J. Weisenberger, senior aerospace science instructor. “That’s because I have the best students in the school. They work hard, and do amazing things. They make me proud every day!”

Students have the opportunity to study aerospace science, including the development of flight and applied flight sciences, as well as space exploration. The course is augmented with additional fun activities, such as team-building exercises, intramural competitions and aerospace/technology field trips.

According to freshman Max Goldsmith, “[AFJROTC] is truly a student-led program. We are responsible for daily operations, and we’re held accountable for the results.” Junior Amelia Johnson added, “The program’s emphasis on community service is very important. During the fall semester, we supported a 10K walk/run event for the National Parkinson Foundation. We also participated in the Veterans Day observance at El Dorado High School. I look forward to doing this more in the future.”

“In addition to our Aztec Engineering/Manufacturing Academy and Medical Sciences Academy, AFJROTC allows students to excel both in the classroom and in their personal lives,” said Esperanza Principal Ken Fox. “AFJROTC is creating tomorrow’s leaders today.”

Enrollment in AFJROTC does not subject students to any military obligation, and it is not a recruiting program. However, there are additional benefits available for qualified AFJROTC cadets wishing to pursue military avenues, including scholarships, college credit, direct application to military academies and a higher military pay grade than normal enlistees.

Above all else, the Esperanza High School AFJROTC program is a leadership development opportunity that provides its students with the tools for success during high school and beyond, regardless of the chosen career path.

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