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Jr. ROTC: ‘more than a uniform’

Jr. ROTC cadets (from left) Michael Kuster, Randall Johns, Ashli Knapp and Scott Burkhardt lower the flags in the high school court yard November 29.Jacksonville may be a big Navy town but the Air Force rules in Baker County. At least on the high school campus.

Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has been a permanent fixture at Baker County High since 2005 and there’s every indication it will continue for years to come. The school board officially renewed the program, which currently has about 114 cadets enrolled, for a seventh year at its November 22 meeting .

“There’s a feeling of family in the corps that students respond to,” said school principal Tom Hill, “and they absolutely do enjoy doing the drills.”

Students get to demonstrate their precision marching and other ceremonial skills, not only on campus where they raise and lower the US flag every day, but throughout the county at various events, including football games, parades and other community activities.

“We’re extremely proud of those young men and women who participate in the JROTC program,” Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson said. “They participate in numerous civic functions.”

But there’s much more to it than looking sharp in a uniform, synchronized marching, giving crisp salutes and respectfully handling the American flag.

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Making sure they can see

Dr. Mary Futch examines Jaxon Burnsed.Macclenny optometrist Dr. Mary Futch has been providing exams and glasses free of charge to a select group of students in Baker County public schools. It’s her way of giving back to the community.

“There is such a need in this county,” said Marcheta Crews, the school district’s chief nurse. “Dr. Futch didn’t want any children who truly needed vision correction to be without glasses, especially when it comes to school and learning. And being able to see properly is critical for them to adequately prepare for FCAT testing.”

A recent change in Medicaid coverage left many local children without access to vision care. Such services, once contracted to private vendors, were centralized at Shands Hospital in Jacksonville.

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