Civil Air Patrol Program Goes beyond Usual Lessons; Fitness, Nutrition, Exercise Are All Part of the Junior Cadet Program

Article excerpt

Byline: SANDY STRICKLAND

After seeing the drill team go through its precision-sharp maneuvers, Shelby Asher was inspired.

The fourth-grader dropped to the gym floor at Christ the King Elementary School and began doing pushups.

Shelby is participating in a pilot Civil Air Patrol Junior Cadet Program for elementary schools. Bishop Kenny High School's four-man ROTC team came to the Arlington school to demonstrate its military-style moves.

And, by the way, its members do more than 100 pushups every day. So Shelby and a couple of classmates wanted to show they could do some, too.

The Larkin Road school is one of 20 in the United States and two in Florida participating in the program. The CAP, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit humanitarian organization founded in 1941.

Fifth-grade teacher Carla Chin, who is coordinating the program, said she wanted Christ the King to participate because the lessons involve character, leadership, physical fitness and academics such as aerospace science.

"They are teaching children that what you do today comes back to you tomorrow," Chin said. "It's a tremendous program."

It kicked off in November and is being implemented in second through fifth grades. The half-hour lessons can be expanded, if desired, to add enrichment activities, she said. Though they won't be learning to drill, Chin said, the students study food and nutrition and drug awareness under the physical fitness component.

Under character, they study traits such as perseverance. The students were told about early experiences in the lives of achievers such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Michael Jordan, Alexander Graham Bell and Walt Disney. Without giving their names, the students were asked if they would consider them successful. Most said no. …