DALLAS - They are the few and the proud. A group of Dallas high school students have kept one step ahead of their classmates, thanks to a unique after-school program.

Marvin Colato is a big man on campus, especially when he's wearing his fatigues at W. T. White High School in Dallas.

I feel tall, feel really proud wearing the uniform, really respectful said the senior cadet.

Marvin is in twelfth grade and a member of the school's Junior ROTC program. It's the only Marine Corp Junior ROTC in the Dallas Independent School District.

The program started in 2001 and was nationally recognized in 2007 and 2009. It has won so many trophies they needed an entire room to display them.

One of the program's instructors, retired Marine Corp Sgt. Major Willie Martin, said it proves that hard work for kids pays off.

We can't get them to go home, he said. They come here [and] sometimes we have to make them go home.

One of those students was Indio Felarca. He graduated last spring and is now in his first year at the United States Naval Academy. His mother, Linda Lawless Felarca, credits the after-school program for much of his success.

It helped a lot because, again, it was a good foundation in the military training, she said.

The military training teaches students first-hand what it takes to become a leader and graduate with the confidence as they prepare for college, the workforce of the military.

Many of the students enlist in the service following graduation. Colato said he hopes to attend the US Naval Academy in the fall.


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