By Matthew Tungate
When 1st Sgt. Sonny Long became Army instructor at Harlan County High School five years ago, he had a freshman in the JROTC program who was in trouble from the first month of school. He skipped classes, argued with everybody, used tobacco constantly and was often in detention.
“I couldn’t hardly stand to be around him much myself,” Long said.
As a sophomore, the student made big improvements while in JROTC class but was still getting in trouble in other classes. The next year, Long gave him a higher rank and explained to the student that he would be held responsible for all of his actions, not just in JROTC. The result was that the student didn’t spend much time in detention, earned higher grades and exhibited newfound self-esteem. By his senior year, the student had learned how to interact with other people, lead them and earn their respect.
“I had over 15 teachers and two principals tell us that we had performed a miracle with him. He was thought of as the most likely student to drop out of high school when he was 16 years old,” Long said. “He graduated high school and is Read the full story