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Notre Dame NJROTC program benefits cadets, community

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 12/7/22

Notre Dame High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program gives its cadets the unique chance to both better themselves and their communities.

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Notre Dame NJROTC program benefits cadets, community


UTICA — Notre Dame High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program gives its cadets the unique chance to both better themselves and their communities, said Naval Science instructor Chief Brian Jaynes, USN Ret.

“This gives them an opportunity to give back to their community while building up themselves and their self-discipline that in a normal high school setting they might not get,” Jaynes explained.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Navy for eighth through 12th graders at Notre Dame. It is a citizenship and leadership development program that teaches them self-discipline, leadership, respect and self-determination skills. Cadets have the option of joining different competitive teams, including the drill team, academic team, air rifle team, cyber patriot team, drone team and physical training team.  

Jaynes said the program has been at Notre Dame for 49 years and he is in his 12th year as instructor. There are currently 63 cadets, he added, and each of them needs be approved to join the program and maintain passing grades in all subjects.

Students meet at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday for a set of drills, including armed, unarmed, color guard and physical fitness drills, and again after school at 3:30 p.m. for another set. They have NJROTC classes three days a week and a uniform inspection and physical fitness training each one day a week, Jaynes said.

After graduation, the NJROTC students can enlist as either an E-2 Airman Apprentice or E-3 Airman depending on how long they participated, he added. NJROTC also looks great on resumes and applications for colleges and military academies, Jaynes noted.

Cadet Lt. Commander Marina Cascini is the current commanding officer. The Notre Dame senior has been with the program for four years.

“The list of skills that this unit has instilled in me is endless, but one of the strongest ones would be public speaking,” Cascini said. “I have learned how to speak in front of huge groups of people with little to no nerves, something I never thought I’d achieve.”

Chief Petty Officer Isaiah Sexton, a Notre Dame junior who has been with the program for three years, said he likes working with younger cadets.

“The thing I like best about NJROTC is the ability for me to nurture younger cadets and mold them from regular high school students into real-world ready leaders,” Sexton said. “Being able to provide such guidance is extremely rewarding to me and I am beyond thrilled to be able to pass on the knowledge and experience with which I have been granted.”

Cadet Seaman and Notre Dame eighth grader Christianna Jadwick is in her first year with NJROTC, inspired to join after seeing the fun the older cadets were having in the program. “NJROTC benefits me by providing me a sense of leadership and discipline,” Jadwick said. “It also allows me to practice the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.”

Cadets each perform an average of 14 hours of community service per marking period. They participate in community events like color guard presentations, setting out the Flags for Heroes along Memorial Parkway in Utica, walking in parades, placing American flags at veterans’ graves for Memorial Day, and helping out with the Boilermaker road race, area cleanup and beautification projects and American Red Cross blood drives.

In and out of classes, the cadets are always impressive in what they do, Jaynes complimented. “The kids just amaze me,” he said. “Every time we throw something at them they rise right to it. I am always impressed by the great things they do.”

For more information, to make a donation or to request a Notre Dame NJROTC color guard, visit


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