John Mark Young, who grew up in Sapulpa schools, appeared before the Sapulpa Board of Education to request the naming of the new JROTC building.
Young spoke of when he was a child, remembering his first day of school when his mom dropped him off to a new school building, and creating lifelong friendships with the other students.
Two of Young’s uncles, who graduated from Sapulpa schools in the late 30s, were Colonels in the Marine Corps, and Young was so inspired by them, he became a Marine Colonel himself.
Young graduated from Sapulpa High School in 1968, and says he wishes they had a JROTC program when he attended, but is delighted the school had the opportunity to have one later.
Major Jerry Swepston, after whom Young requested the building be named, was the first to run the Sapulpa JROTC program. Young and Swepston met when the latter was assigned to the Sapulpa chapter of JROTC.
Finding the space for the program was a problem from the beginning, since JROTC requires open space for physical drills—somewhere without desks and chairs. In the beginning, they were forced to use the parking lot for marching drills, regardless of weather or traffic.
Eventually, Swepston suggested that they use the extra space by the FAA building to build a drill deck, but they lacked the $175,000 to build it until now. He began fundraising and soliciting private sources for the funds to build the drill deck so the JROTC students could properly perform their drills.
Young concluded his appeal by saying, “[Swepston] deserves to have something he really put his stamp on…he’s earned to have his name on the building and it would honor him appropriately to pay him back in recognition what he did for the children of the community.”
The Board said they greatly appreciated Young’s speech and assured him that the dedication of the new JROTC building to Major Swepston will move forward in February.