Parkdales’ JROTC Raiders: A team you may want to join next year


Luz Gaytan

(from left) Ahmad Berry- Pettus, Jailyn Quiñones, Machiah Barnes, Adriana Ramirez, Matthew Conte, and Michael Bailey are all members of the Parkdale Raiders team.

Like with most high schools, Parkdale students are very familiar with the basketball, football, soccer, volleyball, and swimming teams. However, there is one team in Parkdale’s athletic department that goes against the “norms” of athletics: the Raiders JROTC team.

Run by JROTC instructor Colonel Rivers,  the Raiders JROTC competition team is an after-school program that meets weekly on Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:30 P.M. 

Raiders has been around at Parkdale for more than 15 years and according to Colonel Rivers, “Raiders is a team activity [that is] geared toward both physical and mental attributes.” He added that there is a lot of teamwork and that in Raiders, students build physical and mental toughness. All of this hard work is for different events around the county, state, and nationwide since Raiders is a recognized part of JROTC. 

Along with the cadets, who are students in the JROTC program and Colonel Rivers, one other thing that makes up the Raiders team is physical conditioning.

“You have to be willing to work on improving your physical condition to whatever level is necessary in order to achieve success in this program,” said Colonel Rivers. Teamwork is a big part of being in the Raiders. They partake in lots of exercise and team building activities to help in competitions. Some of these exercises and activities include running, pushups, burpees, pull ups, and planks. One day it’s circuit training, others it’s working out, but there is always exercise. 

One major component (and benefit) of the Raiders program is the physical fitness that comes with it. (Luz Gaytan)

Not only do Raiders participate in physical activities but they learn different survival skills and life skills. Tying knots sounds like something easy, yet even knots have their own process. Just in case the cadets ever find themselves crossing a river with a rope, their knot tying could save someone. One life skill that could help anyone in the real world is always having their uniform on properly. These cadets could pride themselves on wearing their uniform, looking clean with collars down and all, it’s just all part of being a Raider. 

Junior Eduardo Astacio is the Raiders commander, and in JROTC he is a first lieutenant.  He has seen many benefits from being on the team since his freshman year.

“I’ve been in Raiders for what I would say a year and a half because last year there were no raiders, but the year before I was in it,” said Astacio. “What it has taught me is how to properly do PT [physical training] without causing self injury or overdoing it. It’s also shown [me] how to work in a team [and]  as part of a team.” He added that students are always constantly taking practice in physical training. 

Junior and Platoon Sergeant Michael Bailey agreed with Astacio about the physical benefits of the program, saying  “it made me fit.” Bailey added that he joined Raiders because his older brother had been on the team and some of his friends encouraged him to join. The environment is full of encouragement and pushing from teammates to help students build and improve. From stretches, to pushups, situps, running, knot tying, and more, the Raider competition team pushes all your limits. 

Although most Raiders members are JROTC students, the activity is open to all. (Luz Gaytan)

The Raider teams all over the country go to competitions in which they run, hike, crawl in tunnels, cross rivers on rope bridges and much more while in their uniform. They are all about testing their strengths and working in teams to achieve their goals. Although most of the team this year is made up of JROTC cadets, the team is open to participants outside of JROTC. 

JROTC is the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and is one of the programs offered at Parkdale. The mission of the program is “to motivate young people to be better citizens.” Our school’s battalion is built of three companies; Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. The students within the JROTC are referred to as cadets. The JROTC program at Parkdale is made “to teach high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to the community, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self discipline.”