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Student shares story, perspective as ROTC member

Holding+the+flag%2C+junior+Joseph+Cacciatore+takes+his+position+for+ROTC.+Joseph+was+appointed+the+color+guard+commander+and+said+that+the+main+goal+of+ROTC+is+to+promote+citizenship+at+the+school.+
Holding the flag, junior Joseph Cacciatore takes his position for ROTC. Joseph was appointed the color guard commander and said that the main goal of ROTC is to promote citizenship at the school.

Holding the flag, junior Joseph Cacciatore takes his position for ROTC. Joseph was appointed the color guard commander and said that the main goal of ROTC is to promote citizenship at the school.

Gracen Rivera

Gracen Rivera

Holding the flag, junior Joseph Cacciatore takes his position for ROTC. Joseph was appointed the color guard commander and said that the main goal of ROTC is to promote citizenship at the school.

Carol Kornworcel, Staff Writer

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As seen around school, some students wear blue shirts tucked tightly into navy blue pants, shiny black leather shoes and a badge on their shoulders with the large, bold letters “ROTC”— an outfit that has been defining Wednesdays as ROTC days.   

ROTC is a class and program designed to teach students leadership, citizenship and aspects of the military in and out of school hours. Junior Joseph Cacciatore, a participant since his freshman year, knows the “drill” all too well.  

“Last year, I was the drill team commander, which led to me being the color guard team commander this year,” said Cacciatore.  

The color guard is the group of 5-6 people who present the American, Florida and Plant flags – known as colors – while the anthems are being sung before the football games, carrying two rifles on each side.  

“The main goal and purpose of ROTC at high schools is to promote citizenship, but I think it’s a lot more than just that,” Cacciatore said. “You learn a lot by being in the program, and though it’s not for everyone, the people who are in it learn a lot and leave with a lot more knowledge.”  

Color guard and drill have planned days to practice, which is usually twice a week. Fridays are Cacciatore’s only “day off,” where he does not need to do anything truly ROTC related.  

His teachers, retired Lt. Col. Calvin Mason and retired Master Sgt. Mic Conteh, are the ones responsible for teaching him and mentoring him throughout ROTC, but his greatest influence has been his sister.  

“My sister was actually one of the people in charge of the entire program, and she had come to my middle school to talk about it,” Cacciatore said. “I was amazed at ROTC in its entirety and decided to join my freshman year. She was the one who really influenced my act to join the program.”  

Cacciatore began in the color guard as a rifle holder and a part of drill. Becoming involved at the beginning of his high school career has given him more time to learn about his position’s responsibilities, as well as help newer color guard and drill members learn too.   

“Color guard has been a pretty big influence on me, especially with how I respect the flag and take things seriously,” Cacciatore said. “All of it has changed with color guard, and that is what I want to pass onto my new team.”  

Now as the color guard team commander, he teaches his new team the sayings of presenting the flags, how to carry them and what to do with them. Cacciatore wants to be the best he can be to help his team succeed in color guard. Last year’s color guard commander, Trevor Widal, is Cacciatore’s inspiration.  

“Trevor was a great color guard commander last year, and I look up to him, so I can be able to make my team be amazing and as good — and better — than past color guard teams,” Cacciatore said.  

Once Cacciatore graduates high school next school year, he does not want to lose the skills he has learned through the ROTC program but use them during his lifetime. Some skills he has learned are discipline and citizenship. 

“Sometimes when I go to Publix with my family and I am in uniform, I get strange looks from other people there,” Cacciatore said. “But I keep my posture and sometimes go ask them if they have any questions. When I go to college, I want to be in the ROTC program as well.”   

Cacciatore, along with the ROTC program, has benefited throughout the program in many ways and encourages more students to become involved.  

“We are always looking for new recruits and members of the program,” said Cacciatore. “If you are interested in joining the class, I highly encourage you to try it out for a year.”  

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Student shares story, perspective as ROTC member