NJROTC adds new leadership to an already strong group


“Our program is just like a family; but just like any other family, we experience changes,” Seth Koch, the Commanding Officer of Freedom High School’s NJROTC program said.

The NJROTC program is the best opportunity for you to get invaluable experience while you earn a high school    degree. When enrolled in NJROTC, students (cadets) are taught character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership, and diversity. Freedom’s Program is involved in community service and state-wide competitions that heavily impacts the students.

“The competitions will give students the chance to lead and become better people,” Koch added.

The NJROTC program is considered a family among the student body. In past years, the program was led by Captain Theodore Wasylkiw and 1st Sergeant Eric Bowman with the recent addition of Master Sergeant Laura Hernandez. Captain Wasylkiw was with the unit for 13 years before retiring this past year.

Captain Wasylkiw was considered a father-figure among the students in the program. He was very influential in the    shaping of the kids in the unit. Over the years, students have built meaningful relationships with Captain and he will be thoroughly missed.

“Captain was the most influential person of my high school career,” Starr Rodgers, 12, said.

Captain’s position is being filled by Lieutenant Commander Pettis Sims. Sims was in the military for 30 years and is well experienced in many fields. He is a social person and is a family man. The students in the program are looking forward to having a new instructor.

“This isn’t just a job,” Lieutenant commander Pettis Sims said. “I’m really excited to make a positive impact in the lives of these kids.”

When a group as close-knit as this one loses an influential member there tend to be serious changes in the dynamic. The people in positions of leadership are hopeful and see this new instructor as a way to better the unit. Although leaders in NJROTC predict change, everyone is optimistic about the direction of this program.

“Captain was a very influential part of this unit,” explained 1st Sergeant Eric Bowman. “But every change in this group is just an opportunity to grow.”

The NJROTC program is involved in many activities and many of their projects heavily impact the school itself so, having a new instructor added this group can really have a significant impact. The hopes are high, but the members of the program are sure that Lieutenant Commander Sims is going to deliver. The students are really looking forward to the addition of Sims to the ROTC family, including Koch.

“I believe we can really go back to states with this group.”