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School of the Week: Byron Elementary

JROTC instructor Sheldone Almond heads the state's first elementary school cadet leadership program

BYRON, Ga. — Byron Elementary students learn valuable life skills from their JROTC instructor Sheldone Almond.

"First off is body control. You have to know what your limbs are doing and how to control your limbs and you have to know to have the right mindset," said 5th grade Captain Eli Johnson.

"It takes a lot of courage, responsibility, discipline," said 5th grade Master Chief Brooklyn Lyitle.

"You need to do your job for your uniform. Like, you need to make sure it doesn't get dirty," said 5th grade Petty Officer Third Class Cole Kannady.

"When Coach Almond says stop talking, you don't talk. You listen to his directions," said 3rd grade cadet Dejuan Mann.

It's almost hard to believe those words are coming from 3rd and 5th graders. Almond says it's more effective to start teaching discipline at an early age.

"These kids soak up stuff right now like a sponge and this is the perfect time. Who's going to guide us? Who's going to have our backs when we get older," Almond said.

He says it's the first elementary school JROTC program in the state. Three years later, Almond has nearly 100 cadets in the program.

"I was only going to target kids that were making the wrong choices, but I decided to get other kids involved. That way it would give the kids that make the wrong choices a better idea on how to make right choices," Almond said.

Johnson says when he started in 3rd grade, it was always his goal to be a JROTC leader.

"Because when I grow up I want to be the president," Johnson said.

"Every elementary school needs this program, without a doubt. It can change, we need to change the world not just be in the world," Almond said.

"It's just lucky that I was raised in Byron, and I got to go to this school and then Coach Almond showed up and now we have JROTC and I feel really really honored," Kannady said.

The elementary cadets gave a presentation during halftime at a Mercer Women's Basketball game over the holiday break.

Almond is from Commerce, Georgia, and hee served in the Navy for eight years as a Master Helmsman.

MORE SCHOOL OF THE WEEK

School of the Week: Jones County High

School of the Week: Windsor Academy

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