Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice joined leaders with the West Virginia National Guard and West Virginia Department of Education at Clay County High School last week to present a check in the amount of $21,175 to help the school implement its new Future Leaders Program.
The Future Leaders Program is designed to assist high schools in providing military and leadership-based curriculum, mentorship, and guidance to high school students that aid in character and leadership development. The program is similar to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) programs throughout the nation, but is run locally by the West Virginia National Guard and is tailored to the needs and requests of the schools in West Virginia.
“With this program, it’s unbelievable what you can do,” Gov. Justice said. “We really appreciate our National Guard stepping up to allow us to have this kind of training that’s going to allow our youth to truly become the leaders of the world.”
The check, presented by the Governor and First Lady and from Department of Education funds, will allow Clay County High School to purchase uniforms needed to get the program off the ground.
Each school that is a part of the Future Leaders Program has a full-time military instructor from the West Virginia National Guard’s Military Authority who will teach curriculum and serve as a mentor to students.
“There will be somebody with you all the time,” Gov. Justice said. “Somebody you can talk to. Somebody who can help you navigate all the little curves of life. Somebody that will help you and from that we hope you’ll grow.”
In addition to teaching high schoolers values such as leadership and citizenship, the program also includes education in physical fitness, first aid, career direction, drug education, resume building, and communication skills.
The Future Leaders Program will work in tandem with Clay County’s Communities In Schools program. That initiative, spearheaded by First Lady Cathy Justice, utilizes community partnerships to provide resources for at-need students.
“The Future Leaders Program is going to be great,” First Lady Cathy Justice said during the event. “Along with Communities In Schools, we are going to partner together and make you all proud of who you are.
“Know that you have all the support of everybody. Know that you can do anything. And be proud you’re from West Virginia,” First Lady Justice continued.
The program is available to all students, whether or not they have any interest in eventually joining the military.
During the ceremony, West Virginia National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer explained that the Future Leaders Program and Communities In Schools will each help provide more opportunities for students to achieve their goals.
“Part of what the Future Leaders Program is designed to do is work hand-in-hand with Communities In Schools and help not just the kids in Future Leaders Program, but the entire school focus on what’s good about us as West Virginia and the leadership and the responsibilities that we need to have to make our state a better place,” Hoyer said. “And from that, we as a state will achieve our full potential.”
Clay County marks the fifth county in West Virginia to take part in the Future Leaders Program. Additional pilots of the program are already underway in Logan, Putnam, Mineral, and Wyoming counties, with a total of 12 high schools participating.