SAPULPA, Okla. (Oct. 25, 2022) – Sapulpa Public Schools, along with Sapulpa American Legion Post #36 and the Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce, held a dedication and ribbon cutting Tuesday for the Major Jerry Swepston Marine Corps Training Facility.
The new 4,800 sq. ft. facility is the result of the hard work and tremendous dedication of Major Jerry Swepston, USMC (Ret). Major Swepston established the Sapulpa High School Marine Corps JROTC and served as its senior instructor for 24 years until his retirement in 2020.
Sapulpa is one of only three high schools in the state with a Marine Corps JROTC program. 80 to 100 students enroll in the program each year to learn important skills, character traits and discipline that will carry them through life. Sapulpa’s JROTC cadets have achieved three national shooting championships and won or placed at every local, state, and regional drill competition in which they have entered. Throughout Major Swepston’s tenure, cadets trained outdoors regardless of heat, rain, wind, ice, or snow.
“Major Swepston saw a need for our cadets to practice their drills and train while protected from the elements of Oklahoma weather,” said Rob Armstrong, Superintendent of Sapulpa Public Schools. “He spearheaded the funding for this building we’re standing in, single-handedly putting in months and months of work to raise $175,000 to build it.”
Ground was broken for the drill hall in December 2020 and it was completed in the fall of 2021. The initial funding came from Sapulpa American Legion Post #36, with numerous other veterans’ groups, businesses, community organizations and individuals stepping up to contribute. Major Swepston not only secured the donations for the drill hall, but worked to draw up the plans and found the contractors to build it.
Lieutenant Colonel John Mark Young, USMC (Ret) made a formal request to the Sapulpa school board to name the new drill hall for Major Swepston. It now bears the name “Major Jerry Swepston Marine Corps Training Facility.”
Tuesday’s dedication ceremony, attended by donors, veterans’ groups and Sapulpa community organizations, included a presentation of colors by the Sapulpa High School Marine Corps JROTC and the national anthem performed by the Sapulpa High School Choir.
The Sapulpa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting and attendees heard remarks from Superintendent Rob Armstrong, current JROTC senior instructor LtCol William Shannon, USMC (Ret), LtCol Young, and Sapulpa High School Principal Seth Shibley.
“Jerry Swepston, well done, friend, you have made a difference,” said Mr. Armstrong. “Jerry Swepston is remarkable with anything he does.
Whether it’s fundraising for this building, being a member of our school community or our community at large, he’s just the right person to be around.”
Mr. Shibley praised Major Swepston for the impact he has made on so many students’ lives.
“Major Swepston epitomizes the best of public education,” said Mr. Shibley. “He has a servant’s heart. He was known for taking kids where they were at, regardless of home life or prior experiences, and making them into something better than how they arrived. There is no one more deserving of this recognition than him.”
Mr. Armstrong made the formal dedication while Major Swepston presented a plaque bearing the names of donors to Angela Foresman, Commander of Sapulpa American Legion Post #36. The plaque will hang in the training facility.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the donations that you made for these kids,” said Major Swepston. “We have some cadets here today, and I’d promised them for 20 years I would get a building built. And, after I retired, it happened. And I want to thank you so much.”
Sapulpa Public Schools is thankful to the donors who contributed to the building of the Major Jerry Swepston Marine Corps JROTC Training Facility. The district is grateful to Major Swepston for his ongoing service to education and his dedication to making a difference in the lives of young people.