Maj. Conrad Hernandez, senior aerospace science instructor at Highland High School, has been a part of the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps for nearly two decades.
Aug. 9, Hernandez shared his intimate knowledge of the program during a live interview with Aerotech NewsRadio.
After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Hernandez began working on becoming a bilingual elementary teacher. Those plans shifted when a friend showed him the curriculum for ROTC and the potential it had for “making a difference” in the lives of young men and women.
Hernandez told Aerotech that ROTC is really about citizenship. Enrolling in ROTC classes does not necessarily mean that a student has to have a desire to go into the military after high school. What it does address is the attitude that we should “ask what we can do for our country.”
“When a [student says] ‘thank you for giving me that stern discipline talk when I needed it’ or ‘thank you for giving me that shoulder to cry on when I needed it because that helped me turn around and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wouldn’t have been for you being there for me’… that’s probably one of the most rewarding things that we can ever have,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez explained how the commitment level may vary for each student who is in the program because they are given the option of how involved they want to be. Some students may only enroll in the classes at school. Others may choose to participate in drill teams or community outreach events.
In the classroom, the students are taught a wide range of subjects and are presented with practical life skills such as how to balance a checkbook. Extra events might include running a booth at Thursday Night on the Square in Palmdale Calif., or cleaning an aircraft at the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark as a part of the Adopt-a-Plane program. There are also drill teams, field trips and an Air Force Ball.
Hernandez shared that one of his particularly touching moments during one of the citizenship-focused community outreach events took place at Grace Resource Center. Upon the group’s return from feeding the hungry, one of the students became particularly quiet. When Hernandez asked if he was all right the student shared that he used to be on the receiving end of that line and it felt good to be able to give back to those who were in need now.
For more information on the AFJROTC program at Highland High School visit http://www.highlandhs.org.
To hear the interview with Major Hernandez visit www.aerotechnews.com and click on “radio.” Aerotech NewsRadio is a weekly program broadcasting at 11 a.m., Thursdays. Tune in to 1380 AM to hear the show live.