COOLIDGE

Cadets in the Marine Corps JROTC program at Coolidge High School are learning more than how to march and fire weapons.

Last week they were on the teaching end of education by reading to preschoolers and even learned more about themselves in the process.

About 10 cadets took turns reading interactively from their laptops to the preschool’s Mini Bears as young 3 who were in the district’s preschool class next to their own classroom. Some of the cadets did their part from their homes.

For sophomore Cadet Pvt. Ferrah Ellis, the experience of sharing “Hello, Biscuit” and “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” took her back to when she was a toddler herself.

“I’m excited about it because when I was little I had people reading to me. It’s like a memory so I’m glad we get to make an impact on the preschoolers,” Ellis said. “They exchange with us. They get to see all the pictures and everything. I think they’re going to react to it very good. Some of the books they haven’t see, haven’t read.”

The MCJROTC program’s senior Marine instructor, Lt. Col. Richard Callahan, said the story time reading event was a staff brainchild, and Ellis as the program’s public affairs officer was charged with its responsibility.

“Our values, our mission is to develop character-centered young adults who are capable of going into the community and serving others,” Callahan said.

“One of the ways we do that is through community service. The cadets have organized and planned this event, coordinated with the preschool. They learn a lot of different things here. One, they’re learning how to care for others because our youngest need to have interaction especially during the COVID experience. It will develop their sense of reading and their desire to learn and develop those reading skills. Plus it’s a lot of fun.

“And for our cadets, it gets them out of their comfort zone when they’re reading and teaching children. We’re developing a lot of character traits, leadership traits, planning and all those types of things. It’s really a full, well-rounded program, and the cadets are really learning how to develop into leaders for the community.”

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