Undiscovered NA: The NJROTC House

Unless students take NJROTC, they may not know about the house the class takes place in


The outside of the house

A majority of students remain inside the walls of New Albany High School from 7:40 to 2:26, but NJROTC cadets are required to step outside of the school and go “home”.

“[Our building] was built in the 1960’s, actually all the stuff you see in the kitchen is original to the 1960s,” Commander Michael Clover said. “All the stuff in there is functional, the oven, the entertainment system there on the way, the radio, it’s all authentic to the 1960s. It was an actual house.”

The NJROTC Unit has been operating out of this house since the late 1980’s. Initially, the house was turned over to the school as a maintenance facility. The unit is equipped with all of the fixin’s of a normal house, including the previously mentioned kitchen, a dining area, and a set of stairs that leads to a unique basement. 

“Downstairs is actually a bomb shelter,” Cluver said. “When we talk about builds in the 1960’s, a lot of fear was nuclear war so it’s actually a real bomb shelter. If you go down and look at the walls, they’re all like three feet thick concrete. They built it as a bomb shelter to survive nuclear war.” 

Coming up from the bomb shelter, students can turn left find themselves in what was likely a family room at one point. This open space serves as the classroom portion of the JROTC house, and includes a focal point with the fireplace.

“One of the cool things that’s been a tradition here is that we put the trophies on the fireplace that we earn in that current year,” Cluver said. “This year we’re already on the bottom. This is by far the best year for New Albany NJROTC performance-wise ever in the history of the unit. That doesn’t even include the Hawaii trip.” 

The awards from previous years are moved into the back room. 

High schools aren’t notorious for having the best bathrooms, yet NJROTC cadets receive a bit of a treat with their house having a private bathroom. 

“Custodians come over and clean [the bathroom],” Cluver said. “Most of our kids are pretty self-policing. Most of our kids come over here to use the bathroom instead of in the big building. They’re very self-sufficient about making sure it’s not messed up.”

On to the back yard, the NJROTC Unit is equipped with an accessory dwelling unit, which they use for rifle practices and physical training when the weather outside isn’t suitable.

“[Rifle practice] is right across the street in that metal building,” Cluver said. “That’s where we do our physical training if it’s raining. If not we use this back area to run. We also run around Hazelwood. When we drill, we use this parking lot so we have a lot of good space to use. That’s why I enjoy being out here.”

Senior Unit Commander Chelsie Glover has been in NJROTC for four years, and says she has positive feelings about the house. 

“[The walk over is] definitely a bit of an inconvenience because walking back to the building, it’s locked, and someone has to let us in which doesn’t always happen within that five minute time frame,” Glover said. “My freshman and sophomore year I was late to class almost every day. Another thing is the weather. But I would much rather have our own little facility rather than be in the school.” 

Anyone looking to see the house in more detail can join NJROTC next school year by talking to their counselor. 

“It’s more than a class for a lot of kids,” Cluver said. “This is their second family. We do a lot to keep them over here and get them through school. A lot of people have a misconception that this is a military recruiting program and you need to be in the military. That could not be further from the truth. I’m more interested in getting them through high school and providing support. Yes we use some military based training but that’s still discipline. It’s not to make you a robot. Most kids who come over here stay all four years.”