Every year in late August, 400 new rooks arrive at the university to begin their college education and a yearlong journey to become a Norwich cadet. Training is separated into three distinct phases: Rook Orientation, Rook Basic Skills Training and Rook Basic Leadership Training. The entire process is called Rookdom.
Rook Orientation, commonly called Rook Week, is a seven-day period of training prior to the start of classes. Rooks are issued uniforms, taught to set up their rooms and to march in formation. They begin to memorize important facts about Norwich history and our Honor Code. Rooks attend training demonstrations staged by the Mountain Cold Weather Rescue Unit, Ranger Platoon and the four ROTC programs. Additionally, they participate in a number of physically challenging events to further develop endurance, strength and self-confidence.
Rooks meet with academic advisors and are briefed on academic support programs, student activities, athletics and other opportunities available to them as students. After an intense week of training, Rook Orientation culminates with the annual Dog River Run. This one-mile trip down the Dog River, which flows through campus, will be the first of many memorable moments in the life of a Norwich cadet. Cold, wet and tired, rooks begin to understand the pride that binds cadets, past and present.
Rook Basic Skills Training
Rook Basic Skills Training begins with the start of the academic year. Building on skills learned during orientation, rooks are introduced to military customs and courtesies and the Norwich Guiding Values. Classes, physical fitness training, room inspections, care and maintenance of uniforms, drill and ceremonies, time management and other basic military skills training become part of a rook’s daily routine.
In late November, rooks are tested on their knowledge and physical endurance. Upon successful completion of these events, rooks participate in a parade to celebrate their journey and achievements.
Rook Basic Leadership Training
Rook Basic Leadership Training takes place from December through March. Rooks now begin to assume small-unit leadership roles and practice the basic principles of leadership. Learning how to lead, the importance of initiative, effective communication and learning how to council and train others will become increasingly important skills as they assume higher levels of responsibility during sophomore year.
Recognition Day is held in the spring. With the regiment formed and on parade, rooks are formally recognized as cadets.
Becoming a cadet isn’t just about enduring the challenges of a rook’s yearlong journey. Recognition Day and its ceremony symbolize preparedness for greater responsibility within the Corps of Cadets and as a Norwich student. Rooks are now part of the vision of Norwich’s founder, Capt. Alden Partridge, who believed in developing citizen soldiers. Recognition Day does not mark the end of a cadet’s leadership development. It is only the beginning.