One Class stops by Richwoods H.S. JROTC

By Anna Yee

May 16, 2012 Updated May 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Richwoods High School students are learning the meaning of the Marine Corps saying "Semper Fi," or always faithful.

Each school day, nearly 140 cadets train with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructors, who say funding can get a little tight.

"This thousand dollars is really awesome," said LtCol Mark Johnson, Senior Marine instructor at Richwoods. "We're getting ready to go to a leadership camp. The bill for that is $6,000. This is really going to help out."

The goal is to instill a stronger character in all the cadets, as they evolve from freshmen to seniors.

"The most important thing I hope they learn is self-discipline and that they become better citizens," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Sparkman, Marine instructor at Richwoods. "The lessons that we try to teach and then going to these camps as well help to grow them as leaders in the community."

This is Jareth Long's third year in the JROTC program.

"I've learned a lot about myself," said Long. "I've learned a lot about leading each of these cadets. Being a leader is more than commanding other people, influencing people. It really develops yourself, your confidence."

Long hopes to attend West Point, the US Military Academy.

He says all the training he can get now is a crucial step to getting there.

"It's my future," said Long, "so it's everything."