Military training has existed for a number of years at Waukegan High School and will exist until self-defense is no longer needed.
Cadet Major Leo Porett (Waukegan Yearbook, 1928)
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act. This law formally established ROTC in order to fully prepare high school and college students for military service. The program coincided with the Selective Service Act, a draft authorized in 1917, which aimed to raise the number of soldiers able to support the nation’s involvement in World War I.
In addition to government encouragement, residents of Waukegan requested the establishment of ROTC at the high school; it then became the first and only school in Illinois to offer the training program as a mandatory course in 1919. During this time, the program received enormous support. Local newspapers reported the accomplishments of cadets, many of whom won national acclaim for activities such as Rifle Team and Drill Team.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country-- to love it to support its constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
(Courtesy of Waukegan JROTC)
The Army provides funds for any school that houses an ROTC program. In the wake of WWI, schools were required to adhere to its militaristic curriculum in order to receive funding. As a result, the administration did not fully evaluate its influence. Skills such as map reading, marksmanship, tactics, first aid, and even defense against nuclear weapons were taught within the ROTC course. Moreover, instructors brought their personal experiences into the classroom. Since many were active officers in the Army during this time, even frequently leaving for duty, they kept military enthusiasm alive here at home. The dynamics of this original curriculum created patriotism among WHS students.
Major Carter Bell, former WHS cadet and current instructor speaks of ROTC past vs. present.