JROTC confidence course promises to pay dividends.

School-based tests come in many different forms.

At Garden City High School, count the new confidence course as one kind of test designed to give students an extra boost in life-skills training.

Proposed by Lt. Col. Randy Phillips, director of the high school's Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program, the confidence course is believed to be one of only two JROTC courses in the state.

With 12 stations, the outdoor course tests strength, endurance and performance under stress. Participants jump over, crawl under, climb up and slide down a variety of obstacles. They must work with a partner to complete some tasks.

The challenge promises to fuel more than confidence. As Phillips noted, the course also tests students' physical fitness, as well as their leadership skills, ability to cooperate with one another and overall teamwork.

The confidence course is but one JROTC venture that aims to arm students with tools needed to succeed in any walk of life especially leadership and related skills that help youngsters become better citizens.

Too many children today don't gain such skills at home, unfortunately.

At a time we often hear of programs needed in schools to keep youngsters on track, including strategies that encourage students to stay in school, it's important to consider what JROTC has to offer.

JROTC programs are known to improve classroom performance and student attendance, and reduce discipline issues. And any school activity that emphasizes physical fitness is welcome at a time so many young people don't get enough exercise.

Phillips credited local businesses for donating materials, and volunteers for chipping in to help with construction of the confidence course. Knowing the JROTC project had such enthusiastic community support made it all the more welcome and worthwhile.

Local students outside the ranks of JROTC also should be able to use the confidence course, another plus of the community project.

While tackling the course may seem like an unusual exercise in the educational process, the new activity should indeed pay dividends with greater confidence being just one of a number of benefits for local students who give it a try.