The DSUSD leadership program recently grew to include two middle schools with a third campus planning on creating their cadet corps during this school year.

Over the summer months, this column featured various CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs. An additional program is leadership. All four of the Desert Sands Unified School District traditional high schools (Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Shadow Hills) offer leadership programs in the form of JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps) or Cadet Corps.

Leadership Program Dedicated to Community Service

Cadets from across the district post the colors at the 2019 College Fair.

The leadership program recently grew to include two middle schools with a third campus planning on creating their cadet corps during this school year.

All four programs have strong similarities including their commitment to community service. According to Lt. Col. Joseph Taylor, USAF Retired, head of the La Quinta High School Air Force JROTC program, “The mission is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community. The main goal is to install values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment.”

Taylor goes on to point out that Junior ROTC and cadet programs are about citizenship and leadership. Participating students do not incur any military obligation.

Leadership Program Dedicated to Community Service

Indio High School Cadets

According to Colonel Paul Stryker, US Army, head of the Indio High School California Cadet Corps (CACC) program, “The CACC is an Applied Leadership program, and classes focus on standards designed by the California Association of Directors of Activities and Common Core State Standards, including public speaking, written communication, service learning, presentation skills, community service, government hierarchy, personal and social development, goal setting, and group dynamics. In addition, the CACC provides for maximum flexibility within each school, thus allowing for curriculum and classes focused on meeting the needs of the school’s student population.”

Former Palm Desert High School cadet Michael Smith, now the Fire Chief of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians commented that, “The California Cadet Corps made me into the person and leader I am today.  I learned how to think critically, lead people, carry myself, participate in my community, learn from my failures, overcome obstacles, have self-confidence, manage resources, set and accomplish goals, and interact with others in an effective manner. Simply put, without the California Cadet Corps, I would never have achieved the successes I have achieved in both my personal and professional lives.”

Leadership Program Dedicated to Community Service

Palm Desert High School Cadet Corps

Cadets from the Shadow Hills High School program also weighed in on the benefits of the program. Cadet Max noted that Cadet Corps “sets a standard for kids to have a higher self-respect”. Cadet Jackson observed that Cadet Corps is where you can “advance your future before it begins.”

As students learn about leadership, they put into practice the skills that will continue throughout their lives. They learn to be a team while also following directions. They provide service to their schools and to the community. Each year these young men and women participate at the college fair put on with the efforts of valley schools, One Future Coachella Valley, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. They serve as guides, present the colors, and do whatever it takes to set up and take down the hundreds of tables and décor for the colleges from across the country. As the author of this article will attest, we couldn’t do it without them. This is just one example of the work they do for local charities and organizations – all under their commitment to service.



Image Sources

  • Posting the colors: DSUSD
  • IHS Cadets: DSUSD
  • PDHS Cadet Corps: DSUSD