JROTC student repelling down fire tower.

Buncombe County Schools (BCS) offers challenging JROTC programs to high schoolers as a way to help prepare students for life after graduation. 

At the end of September schools from across the region came together at the Swannanoa Fire Rescue sub station in the Bee Tree Community for a training and team building activity. Students climbed to the top of a training tower and repelled down. A.C. Reynolds High School (ACRHS) JROTC instructor Davide Wise says this is a great opportunity they provide to students. 

“Rappelling is a great confidence boosting activity,” he said. “Many of the students have a healthy fear of heights and stepping over the edge of the tower for the first time requires a significant amount of personal courage. It also serves as a great opportunity to meet and mingle with their peers from other schools.”

Just a few of the skills students learn on this expedition are self confidence and personal courage. Mr. Wise stated that what the students learn on the course can be transferred to other aspects of their lives. Building courage and confidence are among the priorities of the JROTC program.

“When we are signing cadets up to participate, I always remark that they should not let a fear of heights keep them from participating and that, in fact, that is the point - to overcome that fear,” Mr. Wise explained. “I tell them that the terror will give way to exhiliration once they are 10-15 feet down the tower and that, once they are back on the ground, they will want to rush up and do it again. The next year, they are the upperclassmen encouraging the freshman to sign up to participate for the first time, then leading by example by fearlessly bounding from the tower.  The rappel tower is only one small piece of the puzzle, but it is rewarding to see the students grow from shy followers their first year to confident leaders.”

Mr. Wise isn’t just helping students navigate high school; he is helping mold his cadets into leaders and productive citizens. 

“JROTC is not just for students interested in the military, and activities like this will benefit them, regardless of their future endeavors,” Mr. Wise said. “The confidence gained stepping off the edge of the tower is the same they will need as future parents, employees, tradespeople, artists, managers, captains of industry, or however they choose to be productive members of society.”