HCS one of six tapped for Project PASS

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Johnston: It’s a way to engage students early

By Kelly Cantrall

Hardin County Schools is one of a handful of districts in the nation to test a new program for middle schools.
HCS is one of six districts piloting a Project PASS program called Junior Leadership Corps. Project PASS is a partnership between the U.S. Army and the National Association of State Boards of Education. Junior Leadership Corps allows students to take classes and extracurricular activities similar to the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
The program begins at North and J.T. Alton middle schools after the district’s winter break.
The program first was considered as a dropout prevention program and, while HCS had too low of a dropout rate to qualify in that regard, the district had some populations at-risk of difficulties in schools that could benefit from the Junior Leadership Corps, said Superintendent Nannette Johnston.
“It’s a way to engage students early,” she said.
The Kentucky Board of Education had to express an interest in the program for districts in the state to be considered, she said.
Students in the Junior Leadership Corps also would work with the JROTC program at North Hardin High School. JROTC students would act as mentors to the middle school students, and the leadership corps students may participate in JROTC extracurricular activities such as drill and rifle corps.
“We think that will be a win-win,” Johnston said.
Johnston said the program will be one of the extra support services middle schools receive to assist students through that school transition. The program likely will instill skills such as time management and personal responsibility.
“We think that you start those good habits early,” she said.
Christian County also  was selected as a pilot site, along with districts in Gwinnett County, Ga.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Garden City, Kan.; and Jackson County, Miss.
The sites will be monitored to see if students are successful. Johnston said she hopes to see the program expand to include all HCS middle schools.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747.