First Hennepin County full-time JROTC program to open this fall

This fall, Minneapolis will see the expansion of a program that aims to reduce the achievement gap, develop strength of character and leadership skills, and prepare a diverse group of students for lifelong success in educational and personal development. The General Colin L. Powell Leadership Academy will offer one-of-a-kind experiences to students with a commitment to leadership, discipline, academic excellence and service.

The program emerges from the part-time JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program which has been available at MTS High School. During the fall semester, twenty students will get the chance to be part of Hennepin County’s first free, full-time JROTC program. Such programs are very popular with students in other parts of the country, but few such programs exist in Minnesota. In fact, the MTS High School program is the only free JROTC program in Minneapolis.

The General Colin L. Powell Leadership Academy will prepare cadets for higher education through a strong STEM-based, college prep curriculum and aim to replicate the high-performing academic environments in place at the six current Service Leadership Academies in Chicago, where students consistently out-perform CPS averages for testing, graduation rates, and post-secondary acceptance, working toward the goal of 100% post-secondary acceptance. Students are not in any way committed to military service after completion of JROTC programs. In fact, the aim of such programs is college participation, and is, according to the academy itself, “absolutely not” military recruitment.

This small, personalized High School program teaches leadership skills, community service, citizenship, and character development. JROTC cadets are more likely to graduate, go to college and succeed in life. These programs have a track record of providing key skills for students in troubled areas. Brooke Lilly, a Maryland JROTC student recently quoted in the Baltimore Sun, explains: “I used to not do so good in school, but now I have all A’s. It’s taught me a lot of responsibility, and time management was a big thing. And accountability for everything, making sure you have everything in place.”

The Powell Leadership Academy also provides a smaller class environment that allows for more individualized attention to students. The small class sizes are greatly appreciated by students. “I don’t feel like a number,” remarked one student in a recent listening session. “I feel like I am part of something,” said another. The individualized attention and commitment to discipline has had real impact on Minneapolis students. “I like that I’m challenged and there are rules to follow,” said a  Powell Leadership Academy student, echoing othercadet’s assertions that the school helps  motivate them. A commitment to mentoring, including homework time, helps students know their teachers and the school are committed to their success.

The Powell Leadership Academy strives to be a formative part of its student’s lives, and believes discipline fosters positive behaviors and attitudes, builds self-esteem, instills personal responsibility, promotes accountability and teaches ethical decision making. These lessons are often taught through  unique, real-world experiences that get students excited about active and engaged lifestyles. “I get a lot of satisfaction teaching young men and women about discipline, leadership, and presenting opportunities that otherwise they might have never had before,” says Neil Hetherington a retired Army Colonel and Senior Army Instructor at the Powell Leadership Academy, commenting on the numerous extracurricular activities offered by the school. Students recently had the opportunity to go on helicopter rides, and normally enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, canoeing, and wilderness camps, all with a leadership component. Students are also encouraged to participate in intellectual activities such as speech, debate, and robotics competitions.

These immersive experiences have the potential to shape and inspire the leaders of tomorrow, and growing support of JROTC programs only bolsters Powell Academy’s claims. In May of 2016, US Senator Chuck Schumer visited a full-fledged JROTC program in Albany, NY. Reflecting on his visit, Schumer stated: “What’s gonna be the future of the country that we love so much? Well, I wish every Senator could stand right here and witness what I have witnessed, and they wouldn’t have a single doubt about the greatness of the future of America.”

Colin Powell Leadership Academy is proud to invite its first round of full-time students to its challenging and formative program this fall.

For more information, or to schedule a personal tour of the school please visitwww.colinpowellleadershipacademy.org or call (612) 724-4754.
Applications are being accepted now for the freshman class beginning on August 29, 2016.