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Cookin' for a good cause

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By Kirsten Laskey

Self-confidence, responsibility and citizenship are a few qualities the Naval Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) nurture. Now, it is adding cooking skills to the list.To prepare for the NJROTC enchilada dinner, which will be held at 5 p.m. Friday at the Los Alamos High School cafeteria, students strapped on aprons and pulled out the baking pans. In addition to dinner, there will be a silent auction, which will include a painting by Secundino Sandoval and other items.Having students take an active role in dinner “gets them involved,” said Ret. Lt. Commander Wes Schumaker, senior naval science instructor. “They interact with parents ee people other than instructors.”Additionally, it’s an opportunity for students to socialize with the community. It’s also an opportunity to the community to get to know the NJROTC. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Navy, although it is not used a recruiting tool. Rather, the NJROTC helps students gain self-confidence, responsibility, citizenship and teamwork. The local unit was started in 1986.It’s a class students at the high school can sign up for. Schumaker said the class appeals to students who might not be the best athletes or the top students. “This is a good place for them to succeed and gain self confidence,” he said.“I think this program is unique,” said Bret Painter, gunnery sergeant, “we don’t just have one type of curriculum.”Painter said they try to instill pride, belonging and other qualities.In class, Schumaker said, students are taught drills, health, and nutrition, physical education and naval history.“This program,” Painter said, “is about setting these kids up for success ee My goal is to see every one of these kids go to college.”The program has experienced success. Recently, NJROTC found out the air rifle precision team qualified to the Western Regional Championship in Colorado Springs. To help ensure the program is successful, the NJROTC needs the support of the community. Painter said the program is not funded by the Los Alamos Public Schools. “We’re pretty self-reliant,” he said. The program depends on the support of the community and parents.The dinner will help raise for funds for the NJROTC, which will be used for equipment for the color guard, air rifle team and drill team. The community is encouraged to attend, not only to support a good cause but to have some fun.“The food is good and all the funds go to support all these men and women ee to build them to be better citizens,” Schumaker said. The cost for the dinner is $7 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets can be purchased at Brownell’s Hallmark or at the door. Other business supporters include Village Arts by Marilyn.