Military-friendly school district celebrates Independence Day by showcasing recruiting success amid service shortage

Copperas Cove ranks 7th in the nation for most military recruits per capita, according to the DOD
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 10:18 PM CDT
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COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) - Defense officials say every branch of the military is struggling to meet recruitment goals in 2022.

However, there’s a local school district that’s going above and beyond to inspire, support and supply new service members.

“We do work hand-in-hand with recruiters,” said Wendy Sledd, Director of Communications at Copperas Cove Independent School District. “We allow recruiters on our campuses on a regular basis to spend time with our students in a casual environment such as lunch periods.”

According to the Department of Defense, Copperas Cove ranks seventh in the U.S. for most military recruits per capita.

“We do hold each other accountable and we do function as a family in Copperas Cove,” said Sledd. “Although we’re a 6A school, I think because of that small-town feel that you have here, we do have more of an obligation and sense of pride in our community and our country and our world, and that’s reflected in our students’ volunteering as well as our staff and our students who enter the military...I’s reflected in our lives.”

Because of it’s military ties, the Fourth of July may mean a little bit more to CCISD than most school districts.

“It’s kind of weird being able leave on the same day we got our freedom, to be able to go fight for it at the same time,” said Ethan Provost.

Provost, a recent graduate of Copperas Cove High School, is leaving Central Texas for Chicago on Wednesday for basic training for the U.S. Navy.

He says leaving to join the military so soon after Independence Day makes it extra special.

“It’s a lot more inspiring being able to leave supporting the day as well,” said Provost. “I’m excited to be able to travel and serve my country, mainly to give back from what it’s given me already.”

Provost says he was inspired by his father’s service in the U.S. Army, but he wanted to do his service his own way, so he joined the Navy.

“Being in for 17 years and seeing the impact he made on the world, it inspired me to do something,” said Provost. “But I didn’t want to just fully go Army, I wanted to have my own idea towards it.”

He says his time at Copperas Cove HS helped make his military dream a reality.

“A lot of my counselors actually inspired me to go in and pushed me even to when it felt like I wasn’t going to be able to,” said Provost.

In 202-2021, CCISD received eight Purple Star Campus designations from the Texas Education Agency, including Copperas Cove HS which is home to the district’s popular JROTC program.

“Because we do live so close to Fort Hood and because we do have the influence of military families, we have a very robust JROTC program at Copperas Cove High School,” said Sledd. “We limit that to 275 students each year so we can properly provide the instruction they need, and we do have a waiting list.”

Students who decide to join the military get a set of red, white and blue chords to wear around their neck during graduation--this year they also received and wore satin stoles representing their branch.

“That is one way that we recognize them for raising their right hand and agreeing to selflessly defend our nation as a volunteer,” said Sledd. “We’re very proud of our graduates and the partnership that we whare, not just with Fort Hood and the adopted units that are in our schools throughout the entire school year, but also the fact that we can reciprocate and take care of those military families during deployments, long separations, or should, unfortunately, there be a loss of a military family member.”

District officials say they’re proud of their students who remind the public that freedom is maintained by those who volunteer to defend our country.

“Freedom is not free, our students have served, our families have served, and we need to remember that it is our veterans who paved the way for us to have the freedoms that we enjoy daily and often take for granted,” said Sledd.

More than ten percent of CCISD employees are veterans, said Sledd.

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