At the most recent Chicago Board of Education meeting in October, the Board welcomed its newest Honorary Student Board member, Marquis Watson. The purpose of the Honorary Student Board Member position is to ensure that CPS students are represented when the Board makes decisions on issues important to students.
To be eligible, the student must be (or have been in the past) a student council officer, junior class officer, senior class officer or an LSC student representative. The student must also hold at least a 3.0 GPA and have an attendance rate of 95 percent or better. In recognition of his service, the Board will present Watson with a $1,000 scholarship upon his attending a two- or four-year college or university.
Hyde Park Academy junior Marquis Watson exceeds all of the requirements for the position with his impressive record at Hyde Park Academy. In the past, Marquis served as the school’s Student Leadership Council President and actively participated for two years in the academic support program AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), which prepares student for college eligibility. Presently, Marquis serves as the battalion commander for Hyde Park Academy’s JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program, and as the Assistant J-1 for Chicago’s JROTC City Corps Staff. On top of these student civic activities, a rigorous academic course load and JROTC, Marquis also finds time to participate in debate club and hold an afterschool job.
“I applied to the Honorary Student Board Member position to broaden my horizons and knowledge within the Chicago Public School system. I wanted to gain a basic understanding of how the Board of Education identifies problems, and how they apply the decision-making process to resolve key issues. As a cadet leader within Hyde Park Academy’s JROTC program, I have been taught to carry the mantle of leadership in all that I strive to do in life. I am looking forward to working through the challenges that I will face as the Honorary Student Board Member for Chicago Public Schools,” Watson said.
"Marquis Watson represents the best of the student population in JROTC―someone who truly has a desire to serve his community, and his fellow students on the Board of Education. His participation in JROTC has given him the confidence, poise, and the academic ability to make the most of this opportunity," said Todd Connor, CPS Executive Director of Service Leadership Programs.
When asked how he will use this position to improve the situation of CPS students Watson said, “Being selected as the Honorary Student Board Member will provide me with an opportunity to improve my leadership skills as it relates to public education. Being able to pass on the thoughts and issues of students within CPS is a great way, in my opinion, to better CPS.” His future ambition is to attend and graduate college at the United States Military Academy (West Point). After serving in the Army, Marquis’s long-term goal is to obtain a law degree.
About CPS JROTC
The CPS JROTC is the largest in the country in number of students –more than 10,300—and programs offered. CPS Military Schools and JROTC is unique in that there are currently six Military Academies, four JROTC Academies-within-a-school, 34 traditional JROTC programs, and 20 Middle School Cadet Corps programs. The six military academies are the Air Force Academy, Carver Military Academy, Chicago Military Academy, Phoenix Military Academy, Marine Math and Science Military Academy and Rickover Naval Academy.
CPS Military Schools and JROTC is considered the national leader in the integration of JROTC in urban education. JROTC complements the curricula and overall educational programs of high schools, offering students a unique opportunity for personal growth.
As a program, JROTC is comprehensive. With an emphasis on American citizenship and history, courses also help students develop values and skills indispensable to success in school and beyond. JROTC instructors teach as much by example as by syllabus. They serve as role models for students and as mentors who provide strong incentives to stay in school and graduate. Military uniforms are worn once a week according to the program or during special events.
As stated by the program’s Executive Director of Service Leadership Programs, Todd Connor, and the Director of Military Instruction, Kevin Kelley:
“Our focus is to develop our students to their fullest potential for post-secondary education and prepare them to be better citizens by utilizing various components of the military model. We accomplish this by delivering meaningful instruction by a professional staff of military instructors and a comprehensive, technology driven curriculum. It is also our intent to socially and personally develop our students through numerous competitive and non-competitive events such as summer camp, leadership camp, sports challenge, orienteering, local and national drill competitions, field trips, and more. This is an exciting program that offers students the opportunity to develop their academic and social skills while making a difference in their school, community, and Chicago.”