VINTON, VA(WFXR) — Leaders at William Byrd High School have been working for years… establish a Navy National Defense Cadet Corps. Last week, a ceremony was held to make William Byrd’s program official. This program is for schools that do not meet the requirements to have a Junior ROTC program.

With the passing of the Guidon from retired Naval Lt. Commander Landis to Cadet Lt. Commander Katelin Patrick…….the William Byrd High School Navy National Defense Cadet Corps is in play.

“Honestly it means a lot, for the first year to have this…I have been looking forward to this since my freshman year and we finally got this for the unit. For us to be officially established, I am excited to see what the future. Sadly I am a senior. But I really want more cadets to come along and to get the leader ship skills that I have,” said Patrick.

The William Byrd Junior ROTC program went away due to a lack of participants. But recently there was a surge to bring it back. In 2008, the Navy established the NNDCC for secondary schools that do not meet the Junior ROTC standards of 100 cadets at a school or 10 percent of a schools enrollment. Program instructor Naval retiree Senior Chief David Perrin said for the program it started with the basics.

“It all started off with basic marching…how to wear the uniform properly and it led to what you witnessed today,” said Perrin.

For all involved…the is optimism for the program to make it Junior ROTC is strong.

“It keeps growing in numbers…we have great leader people will see us a recognize us more and be a big program,” said Patrick.

I hope this program will help them along what ever path they choose in life to make them successful citizens,” said Perrin.

Perrin said the plan within three years for William Byrd — is to have a full fledged Junior ROTC program — that maintains least 100 cadets each year. Come next year there will be nearly 50 cadets in the corps at William Byrd.