IHS JROTC is always ready to represent community

Photo by Chris Sykes
Mayor Tony Vauss, second from right, makes his way up the front steps of Irvington High School, along with members of the school’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, on their way to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee’s 33rd annual Legacy of a Dream event on Saturday, Jan. 13.IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps is a staple of practically every civic event in town, from the annual Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades to Mayor Tony Vauss’ annual State of the Township Addresses and other local events, so it was no surprise JROTC cadets were at the high school on Clinton Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 13, for the Dr. Martin Luther King Commemorative Committee’s 33rd annual Legacy of a Dream Commemorative Tribute to the life and work of the slain Nobel Prize winner and Civil Rights Movement leader.

“They’re the greatest,” said Chancellor Avenue School Principal Winston Jackson on Tuesday, Feb. 13. “They did a program at our school called ‘High School Heroes.’ About 75 of them came to our school and toured 23 classrooms and it will be on TV sometime in March.”

Maj. Munro, the senior Army instructor for the Irvington High School JROTC Crusader Battalion, thanked Jackson for his comments and added a few words of his own about the battalion’s participation in township events, ranging from the Fire Department’s annual Cancer Walk to the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades to Independence Day activities and a host of other occasions.

“If you look outside, there are two banners hanging from the front of the school that are related to JROTC,” Munro said. “One is for our own Sgt. First Class Harvey Craig, who won the Teacher of the Year Award last year, and the other is for the Irvington High School Consumer Bowl Team that is made up entirely of JROTC cadets. We have been the Essex County Champions, Northern Region Champions and the New Jersey State Champions in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.”

According to Munro, the Irvington High School JROTC program is currently the largest in the state and continues to grow.

“We’re the oldest program in the state of New Jersey, along with Lakewood; Lakewood High School and Irvington High School JROTC program started in 1984,” said Craig on Thursday, June 23, 2016, at the Irvington High School Commencement Ceremony, where 58 of his cadets graduated. “A lot of our young men and women are serving in the National Guard. A lot of them will be going this year. We’ve got some of them leaving the beginning of July, all the way up until September.”

Craig said all the credit for his success as a teacher and military instructor has to go to his students. He said he became a teacher after retiring from the U.S. Army after 21 years and three months as a finance specialist, because he wanted to teach local students what the Army had taught him.

“What the Army taught me, I wanted to come back to my home and give it back to those that walked the same streets that I’m from,” said Craig. “I see their parents and I wanted to give back.”

Mayor Tony Vauss said he is grateful for the service Munro and Craig have given, as well as their commitment to their students, community and country. The mayor added that he always knows who to call on, whenever there’s an official event or ceremony that symbolizes and exemplifies the Irvington Township communal spirit.

“Dr. Jackson is right: They are the greatest,” said Vauss on Saturday, Jan. 13. “They’re a great group of young people that have the benefit of the years of training and experience from their commanders that they’re always willing to share and give to the entire community. I always say we have a lot of talented, extraordinary students in Irvington and the members of the Irvington High School JROTC are the living proof of that, year in and year out.”