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      Saluting students and instructors for their service

      There are many traits that define a leader. Among them are character, integrity and a commitment to excellence. The Hancock JROTC program at Hancock High School is helping to build a new generation of leaders by providing a valuable educational experience for students while fostering partnerships within the community. As part of our Be the Change initiative, we're saluting the students and instructors of Hancock JROTC program.

      Serving others is a noble characteristic. For the cadets of Hancock's JROTC program, they're learning how to serve while gaining skills necessary to succeed in high school as well as for the remainder of their lives. The program, named the Aurora Battalion, is led by Major Mike Crick and Sergeant Major Randal Meyer.

      "It began in 2001; our mission is motivating young people to be better citizens," said Major Mike Crick.

      The Aurora Battalion is one of three programs in the Upper Peninsula. The curriculum includes citizenship, military and USA history, and drug and alcohol awareness. Battalion Executive Officer Alex Monett says he is also learning how to deal with life challenges.

      "It helps me deal with peer pressure," said Monett.

      Participants are encouraged to set high goals. The merit system in Jr. ROTC allows the cadets to earn promotions based on academics, volunteering to be on special teams, like the rifle drill team or the color guard, and participating in community projects. Battalion Commander Danielle Langdon says Jr. ROTC has made her a better person.

      "It helps me be more of a well-rounded person and giving back to the community through various activities through the DAV for the veterans in our area," said Langdon.

      The program is a recipient of numerous awards. In the wake of the budget crunch at some Michigan schools, Major Mike Crick says he's grateful for the support from school officials.

      "I can't say enough about our principal, superintendent, also the school board, for helping this program at Hancock High School. It touches my heart to see these kids come back, knowing they left this school, (and) done exceptionally well," Crick said.

      And the cadets vow to continue the cycle of goodwill in the community.

      "It definitely helps to give back what people have given to me," said Jari Sague, Cadet Company Commander.