Lakewood High JROTC celebrating 100 years with 5K run

By Chase Jordan -


To celebrate a century of achievement and preparing leaders, the Lakewood High School JROTC Leopard Battalion is hosting a 5K run simultaneously with other cadets and runners during a worldwide event.

The JROTC 100th Anniversary Fun Run is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 23 at Lakewood High School, 245 Lakewood School Road, Salemburg. Each time zone’s start time is scheduled to be synchronize to 3 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time.Current ROTC cadets, there’s not cost to participate. For non-cadets, the price is $24. T-Shirts will be available for purchase on the day of the run.

“I encourage anyone in the community to do it because it’s a community event,” said JROTC cadets Austin Ezzell. “We’re trying to get our community together to enjoy the event.”

The Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps is a military-supported high school program whose purpose is to educate high school students in leadership roles while making them aware of the benefits of active citizenship. Curriculum emphasizes academics, citizenship, character development, leadership skills, physical fitness and community service. ROTC began with the signing of the National Defense Act of 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson on June 3, 1916.

“I feel that’s it’s a great honor to do it,” Ezzell said. “ROTC has been here 100 years and I’m one of the ones that get to celebrate it. It’s amazing to even think about it.”

According to the organization, the 5K event will be held worldwide as part of the commemoration of the anniversary. The goal is to have the largest run in military history in an attempt to break a world record. In addition to raising funds for learning or community service projects, the event will allow participants to connect through social media to celebrate the event.

Instructor Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Douglas Koser is looking forward to the event. He served as a policeman for 25 years in the U.S. Army and has been at Lakewood since 2010. Koser will be assisted by Lt. Col. (Ret.) John Laub, senior instructor, who served in the U.S. Army as a pilot for two decades and has been with the program since the mid-1990s, when he began it.

“I’m very excited for the upcoming event,” Koser said.

With planning underway, Koser showed appreciation for the sponsors assisting with the event and supporting the organization, which teaches students life skills.

“There’s this impression out there that we’re here to prepare people to join the military, but we provide more citizenship and leadership skills for them with a little military flavor,” Koser said. “We have formations and cadets are required to wear a uniform once a week, but our whole curriculum is focused on (citizenship and leadership).”

Throughout the community, Lakewood JROTC participates in many activities. Cadets organize a drill team, Sporter Class NRA Rifle Team and the Raider Team, which is an adventure and physical fitness team. Color Guard is conducted at home events and ceremonies also.

About 43 cadets from Lakewood High School are expected to run in the upcoming event event. The school’s program will ass see participation from about 20 ROTC cadets from Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, the sponsoring battalion for Lakewood High.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Koser said.

Registration is available online through by typing “JROTC 100th Anniversary Fun Run-Salemburg” in the search bar.

Following the 5K event, refreshments, barbecue and cake will be served.

“We’re throwing a party and we’re inviting everybody in the community to come out and enjoy it with us,” Koser said about celebrating 100 years.

For more information, contact members of the Lakewood High School’s JROTC program at 910-525-3433.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chase Jordan


Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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