By Sally Marks
The Apache Junction High School’s Navy JROTC program received a letter from the Secretary of the Navy that the school’s program was, once again, awarded as a Navy Distinguished Unit. The honor acknowledges the AJHS NJROTC program as one of the best in the nation.
Only two Arizona schools were selected this year. Apache Junction has received this distinction for the 13th consecutive year; an honor that has never been achieved by an Arizona school before.
The program, taught by Marine Corps Major William Parker and Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer David Patti, is awash with accolades. Among their 2017-18 accomplishments are: state and Navy Area marksmanship championships, state and Navy area academic team championships, state and Navy area orienteering championships and the state drill team championships. AJHS hosted the state academic qualifier and Navy regional marksmanship championships this year.
“We have an awesome group of cadets and they really worked hard for this,” said Major Parker. “I will truly miss the honor of teaching these students.” Major Parker and Senior Chief Patti will be retiring at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
NJROTC started in 1916 and AJHS received a unit in 1996. Congress currently limits the program (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps) to 3,500 high schools. No new schools are being funded and 600 schools are currently on the Navy waiting list for the program.