Oakley Vets Day

The Heritage High School USAF JROTC presented the colors for the annual Veterans Day observance in Oakley, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Tony Kukulich/The Press)

Brentwood’s Heritage High School is home to the Liberty Union High School District’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), and this spring, the program is preparing to wrap up its year with an awards ceremony.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Barrett Morris is the senior instructor for the Heritage program. He chose leadership of JROTC as a second career after 23 years in the Air Force. As the JROTC senior instructor, he guides the cadets as they build leadership and teamwork skills.

Morris is in his first year as part of the program and said it’s going well so far.

“It’s a great group of kids and a great program,” he said. “It’s not just military. We use the military construct to teach valuable life skills.”

Morris supervises about 100 cadets, and 15 of them will receive awards next month. The group and the awards are sponsored by the many local veterans clubs — each of which will select a cadet for their award. One cadet will also receive a scholarship.

“JROTC students have the opportunity to earn rank and medals while challenging themselves as part of a leadership team,” explained Morris. “That will improve their ability to lead people and manage tasks, while refining their communication skills. Additionally, there are several scholarships, pilot-training and leadership programs only available to JROTC students.”

One of Morris’ students is Cadet Col. Sebastian Heinz, a senior at Heritage. Part of the program since his freshman year, and said he’s learned important character-building lessons.

“It was something I was interested in as a freshman,” Heinz recalled. “I was looking for new and exciting opportunities, discovering new faces and all the extracurricular stuff that is offered after school was interesting to me.”

Heinz said his favorite part of the program has been meeting new people and competing in JROTC events.

“When we come together for competitions and events, the competitiveness and spirit is something else,” he said. “I couldn’t get enough of it the last four years.”

Heinz and his fellow cadets are looking forward to the ceremony at the end of April.

“It’s one of those ceremonies where we recognize the hard work and achievements of both the teams throughout the year and the exemplary work from individuals as they’ve achieved accomplishments that have really made a difference, both to the unit and the community,” Heinz said. “It’s one of those heartwarming events where we can really recognize those who have done a lot for us over the past year.”

Heritage High School’s JROTC program is open to students attending Heritage, Liberty and Freedom high schools. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/thepress_jrotc.

The award ceremony is currently scheduled for Wednesday, April 29. Due to concerns regarding coronavirus, the ceremony may be canceled or rescheduled. For more information on the program or the ceremony, contact Morris at morrisb@luhsd.net.