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Highpoint of Cape Coral residents observe Memorial Day early

By FRAN THOMAS - | May 26, 2023

Mariner High School JROTC students present the colors on Thursday at Highpoint of Cape Coral. PHOTO BY FRAN THOMAS

Highpoint of Cape Coral residents observed Memorial Day early on Thursday with a visit from seven students from Mariner High School’s JROTC Leadership Academy. The academy’s students go out into the community often to fulfill their mission of becoming better citizens.

According to Director of Sales and Marketing Nate Jackson, more than 33 veterans reside at Highpoint. Their photos are proudly displayed and fill a whole wall off the lobby. Some are World War II veterans; others fought in Korea or Vietnam.

Major Bryan Williams, a 25-year veteran, supervises 650 cadets at Mariner. They all attend daytime leadership classes. About 150 of them participate in eight after-school activities, and from those students come the ones trained to participate in community events.

The ceremony at Highpoint began with the presentation of colors followed by an a cappella rendition of the national anthem by Cadet Greenland. She was the only sophomore in the group of seniors and had been given only 12 hours notice to prepare to sing in front of a lobby full of residents. Acquiring poise is one of the program’s many benefits.

Next, four of the cadets demonstrated the proper way to fold the American flag as Cadet Williams, Chief of Staff, narrated the meaning of each fold.

After learning about the meaning of the Missing Man or Fallen Comrade table at the JROTC Ball, the students asked if they could begin the practice in the community. Cadet Williams again described each element on the table. One by one, flags were added to the table in honor of Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and fallen heroes of all branches. As each flag was presented, the cadet intoned “Remember.”

Earlier in the week, the students learned about Gold Star families and the significance of red poppies and taps. Photos taken at this event along with a narrative were to be assembled into a storyboard and shown to classes on Friday.

According to Major Williams, about three to five students from an average senior class of 50 go into the military after high school. Of the cadets present at Highpoint, several were going to college under full ROTC scholarships after which they would join the military. All of the JROTC students are required to develop what they call Plan A for their lives. Each of them already has a resume. Most of this year’s graduating class are going to college or a trade school.

Many military officials point to research indicating JROTC students have better school attendance, better percentage of college enrollment, higher test scores, and higher GPAs.