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CHS National Navy Defense Cadet Corps to Undergo First Inspection

An "inspection of the troops" in Cleburne High School's National Navy Defense Cadet Corps will be conducted Wednesday--the first to take place since the establishment of the program in 2021-2022.

"This is referred to as an off-site inspection. It isn’t to see what we might be doing wrong but is more of an evaluation to see how the National Navy Defense Cadet Corps is being conducted at CHS, and how we are meeting expectations," Senior Naval Science Instructor Gunny Sgt. (Ret.) Raul Mendoza said. "We will be working with Guest Inspectors and military recruiters who are familiar with this procedure. Our cadets will demonstrate the various skills they have learned, from following the basic commands in a military drill to their knowledge regarding the NNDCC. Their uniforms and appearance will be checked and our administration of the program, from facilities and equipment to the security of our armory and our use of curriculum will be reviewed."

"This will mirror an active duty inspection and will give us something to build on as we continue to seek the NJROTC title,” Mendoza said. “These cadets have been working on this all year and they are ready.  This will give us the chance to show off our program.”

The finale to the inspection will be the Pass in Review presentation involving many of the 60 cadets enrolled in the Cleburne NNDCC. The marching drills and formation displays will be conducted in the CHS Indoor Practice Facility.

While Mendoza is ready to put the Cleburne program to the test, he is also ready for the inspection team to meet his cadets and gain insight into the rapport that exists between him and his students and their work together.

"I think the best part of this inspection will be the feedback our cadets provide in sharing what they have learned and what being in this program means to them," Mendoza said. "That is on the list of areas they will look at. It's been exciting to see Commanding Officer Audra Parsons and Executive Officer Linkyn Harris take on lead roles in preparing their fellow cadets for this on-site review. They will also be a part of the debriefing session with inspection officials."

            Parsons, who is a senior, admits to being nervous as the “lead cadet” in her role of Commanding Officer.

            “I’m nervous, now that it’s almost here,” she said. “I have confidence we will pull through—I feel in terms of regulations, we will knock it out of the park, while also learning from the experience.”

            “I’ve seen a lot of these kids step up in getting ready for this inspection because they know what a big deal it is,” she said. “I’ve also seen a lot of change in their abilities and confidence since the start of the year.”

            Parsons believes the addition of the Navy Defense Cadet Corps has given many students a place to belong within the many organizations and programs available to them at CHS.

            “This is a great program if you’re looking for something different,” she said. “A lot of people think this is hardcore military, but it’s not. It’s about leadership. I’ve seen a lot of kids find themselves and find things they love to do through NNDCC.”

            “We’ve grown in our numbers and I’m happy to see more girls involved this year,” Parsons said. “Last year a lot of kids thought this was a boys’ program. Seeing girls involved tells other girls they belong here as well.”

            Parsons, who is also a three-year state qualifier in Lady Jackets Powerlifting and a member of the Cleburne team that just won the SkillsUSA Criminal Justice Quiz Bowl State Championship, says her involvement in the Navy Defense Cadet Corps has given her direction.

            “Being a cadet was a turning point for me in my junior year,” she said. “I just thought I’d try it out. This was a brand new, starting from scratch program, and it’s been everything I thought it would be. This has given me more confidence and I’ve grown as a leader. I’m a totally different person from my freshman year—I never dreamed this is where I would be as a senior.”

            Cleburne’s commanding cadet also credits NNDCC for helping her determine next steps, as she prepares to graduate.

            “It helped me decide what I wanted to do after high school,” Parsons said. “Gunny is always asking us what we want to do in our future. The first time he asked, I began thinking about mine.”

            Parsons will be attending Tarleton State University in the fall to major in criminal justice—with plans of becoming a crime scene investigator.

            “This program is for everyone,” she said. “We are like a huge family, and we all care about each other and look out for each other. If you are looking for a family—this is the place to come.”