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Sierra cadets get up at crack of dawn to travel to JROTC
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Marc Kelly, a freshman at Sierra High, takes the bus every morning to attend JROTC class at Lathrop High. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

LATHROP – Marc Kelly gets up by the crack of dawn every morning.

It’s part of the routine of making it to his first-period Junior Reserved Training Officers Corps class.

The Sierra High freshman arrives at school before 7 o’clock in order to catch a bus to the Lathrop High campus.

“We need to be (at Lathrop) by 7:10,” said Kelly, who is among the 28 from Sierra.

The school has been without a JRTOC program for about two years, according to Lt. Col. (ret.) Venjie Gose, who was in charge of the Sierra JROTC program for six years prior to coming to Lathrop.

For the past four years, he’s handled the Spartans Battalion.

 “Our hope is to someday bring back JROTC to Sierra,” Gose said on Wednesday.

He added: “It’s not a problem (combining the two schools) but there are some issues – the Sierra kids miss out on the meetings held during lunch.”

Kelly, 14, was influenced by JROTC at an early age. His two siblings flourished under the program during their days at Sierra.

Both went from there to the military.

His sister, Erin Kelly, 23, is currently stationed in San Diego as a nurse in the U.S. Navy.

Scott Kelly, 21, his brother, is a combat engineer at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the only Air Assault Division in the world, the 101 Airborne Division.

“I saw what fun they had while in JROTC,” said Marc Kelly, who attended Brock Elliott School.

In the short time, he’s learned the basic of military training, leadership, and life skills.

“I’ve enjoyed the physical training, taking part in the drill competition, and doing the class work, which is fun because it’s really more about hands-on training,” Kelly added.

Like all cadets, he’s required to come to school in full uniform and ready for inspection on Wednesdays.

“That’s 20 percent of the grade,” said Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) Brian Williams, who, since January of last year, has been the other JROTC instructor at Lathrop.

Kelly is an S2 (security officer) in charge of making periodic inspections.

He’s also hoping to go to Camp Parks in Dublin in April.

“I’ve been interested in the military program for some time,” said Kelly, who is proudly following in the footsteps of his sister and brother.

209 staff reporter