By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta Valley High School JROTC Honor Guard division has had their hard work and hours of practice rewarded by being selected to compete in the 2016 Air Force National JROTC Drill Championship Series.
Anyone who attends events in Crescenta Valley has most likely seen the award-winning Honor Guard. They are the group of about six uniformed high school students who lead the American flag ceremony at local events including the CV Town Council meetings, Hometown Country Fair, Two Strike Park Veterans and Memorial Day events and many more. They are also the students who conduct the MIA/POW (Missing in Action/Prisoner of War) table ceremony.
The Honor Guard is presently in super fundraising mode to raise about $3,000 to travel to Daytona, Florida to compete in the 2016 Air Force National JROTC Drill Championship Series. They earned the right to apply to compete by taking home first place awards the last two years, 2014 and 2015, at the regional Southern California Invitational Drill Meet.
Although the U.S. Air Force program is donating some of the funding, it is not enough to cover the costs of the entire trip. Mentor and teacher Lt. Col. Dave Worley will travel with the students. They will fly out on April 27, tour the Kennedy Space Center on April 28, practice and prepare for competition on April 29, compete on April 30 and fly home May 1 – just in time to face advance placement testing at CVHS.
Beyond the competition, though, this group of JROTC students takes their service as Honor Guard very seriously. It is not about winning as much as it is about respect.
“The Honor Guard represents the best in our program. If one person makes an error it might [appear to be] disrespectful,” said Fredrick Stepanian, a junior who has been in JROTC for three years. “There is no room for error.”
Listening to members who have been in the program for three or more years and those who have just started, the need to “do it right” does not come from the desire to be the best but from respect for those for whom they are performing the ceremonies – especially when it is at a funeral of a veteran.
“[Making an error] is disrespectful for the event, the person and even the country,” Stepanian added.
It may sound like a lot of pressure, and it is at times, but these students deal with this need to get it right together, as a team … as a family. The older students mentor the younger ones. Through this they learn not only how to be leaders but how to work with others.
To donate to help the students get to the competition please contact Lt. Col. Dave Worley at (818) 249-5871 or email DWorley@gusd.net.