WENATCHEE — Beginning next fall, Wenatchee High School will potentially offer an Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. The new program will be part of the district’s Career and Technical Education department.
The Wenatchee School District received approval from the Air Force to begin offering the program in the fall of 2022. The offer is contingent upon finding suitable instructors. Supplies are paid for by the Air Force, while the district will cover the cost of the two instructors.
The approval is the conclusion of a process that took about 18 months and included site visits, a presentation, a three-hour meeting with Air Force representatives and a formal application. According to the district, the program is the first of its kind in the valley.
Jake Bucholz, the district’s career and technical education director, said location, demographics, high school size and support level for the program are among the criteria the Air Force looks at.
The program is open to students in 9-12th grade who are United States citizens. There is no requirement for participants to join the Air Force. AFJROTC includes classroom instruction as well as hands-on activities. Students enrolled can earn both core and elective credits.
As many as 149 students will be able to enroll in the program. According to Air Force requirements, programs with 150 students or more would need a third instructors.
Bucholz said the program will help the district better serve students.
“It’s a great way to build leadership capabilities,” Bucholz said. “And work together as a team and grow that way. It’s about the personal growth of students.”
AFJROTC will also offer students learning experiences not currently offered at the high school.
“This was an opportunity to bring in a program that provides a really robust and rich experience for students,” Bucholz said, “Whether you’re talking about the opportunity to be part of aerospace-type courses or whether you’re talking about the ability to go on power flights or glider flights as part of flight orientation.”
The district will soon post listings for two instructors for the program, though the hiring process is a bit different than hiring a math teacher. Bucholz said the first step in the process is Air Force confirmation that an applicant is eligible for the position. Once the Air Force approves an applicant, the district can then begin the interview process.
One instructor will be a retired officer while the other will be a retired non-commissioned officer.
While the district is confident they will fill the positions, Bucholz said the program would be placed on hold until they were able to do so.