Senior JROTC cadets celebrate at military ball
More than 165 senior cadets in the school system’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (JROTC) program met at North Point High School for a special celebration last month. These students attended the 10th annual Col. Donald M. Wade Joint Services Military Ball, a Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) tradition held to honor cadets for participating in the JROTC program and to celebrate their future endeavors, according to a release.
This year’s ball featured a variety of ceremonial militar y traditions including the Presentation of Colors by the Joint JROTC Color Guard, toasts to honor military personnel, leaders and ball guests, and the selection of a military court, the release states. Senior cadets are also presented with certificates of participation and recognized by their instructors for their commitment to the JROTC program.
The JROTC program provides student cadets with learning opportunities deeply rooted in militar y traditions, from participating in the Color Guard and drill meets, to serving as leaders at their schools and in the community. La Plata High School senior cadet Mikayla Cox was this year’s mistress of ceremonies and was assisted in leading the program by North Point senior cadet Harrison O’Connell, who served as the master of ceremonies.
Board of Education Chairman Virginia McGraw welcomed guests and Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill applauded the cadets for their commitment to ser ving others.
“It is an honor to be among people who are dedicated to traditions of honor, courage, patriotism and citizenship. This event is named in honor of the late Col. Donald M. Wade, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and member of the Board of Education. He helped bring the JROTC program to Charles County Public Schools,” Hill said in the release.
Toasts were held to honor the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, JROTC instructors, cadets in attendance and the President of the United States. A toast was also held to honor those who are missing in action or prisoners of war. A special recognition for militar y members who lost their lives while ser ving or are missing in action was included in the event celebrations. Student cadets placed items of remembrance on a table, such as an empty plate to represent a meal not able to be eaten and a picture frame to represent the memor y of a lost loved one, as well as a lit candle to honor those who served.
Also honored during the ball was Col. Charles Gilbert, a former JROTC instructor who helped to launch the program at Henr y E. Lackey High School. Hill presented Gilbert with a recognition plaque to honor his 22-year career with the school system. During his time at Lackey, Gilbert helped the drill team earn national awards at the Air Force National Drill Championship in 2001 and 2010. Under his leadership, the drill team earned first place in 57 competitions. He retired from CCPS in 2013.
Following the certificate presentation by instructors to their senior cadets, two other ceremonial traditions were highlighted: a cake cutting and presentation of a military court. The military court includes a king and queen who are randomly chosen by a ball guest and participated in a JROTC program all four years of high school. Board of Education Vice Chairman Michael Lukas randomly selected the names and chose Thomas Stone High School senior Douglas Goodell as king and North Point senior Taylor Dobbs as queen.
The JROTC program is available at all seven county high schools and teaches students leadership skills, values and good citizenship. Participation in JROTC also provides advanced rank opportunities for students who plan to enter the military after high school. JROTC programs were first introduced in Charles County Public Schools in 1998 at Lackey. Col. Donald M. Wade was instrumental in launching the program for Charles County students. The ball is named in Wade’s honor to recognize his efforts in advocating for the JROTC program for students. He passed away in 2013.
The programs at Lackey and North Point high schools represent the Air Force; the programs at Stone and Maurice J. McDonough high schools represent the Army; La Plata, as well as Westlake High School, features a JROTC program that represents the Navy; and the program at St. Charles High School represents the Marine Corps. A total of 940 students are enrolled in JROTC programs this school year. These students also participate in an annual county drill meet and co-curricular activities such as color guards, armed and unarmed drill teams, armed and unarmed exhibition drill teams, academic and field competitions.
Charles County Public Schools hosted the 10th annual Col. Donald M. Wade Joint Services Military Ball on Friday, Dec. 9 at North Point High School. The event is held to honor senior cadets enrolled in the school system’s JROTC programs and features several military traditions, such as a cake cutting. Cadet Ana Chavez, left, of Maurice J. McDonough High School was chosen to cut the cake and was joined by La Plata High School’s Kenneth Dutton.
Thomas Stone High School senior Douglas Goodell, left, was crowned as king at the 10th annual Col. Donald M. Wade Joint Services Military Ball held Friday, Dec. 9. The event honors senior cadets enrolled in Charles County Public Schools JROTC programs. North Point High School senior Taylor Dobbs, right, was crowned as queen.