By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta Valley High School JROTC recently took time off from color guard and drills to enjoy an evening of inspirational speeches, and a delicious meal that ended with a dance.
The Military Ball is a time for JROTC students to celebrate and relax after a year of dedication and endless drill and training.
“It is a unique event,” said Grace Kim, Corps commander and CVHS senior.
She added that for cadets who have been in the program for a while the event is something that they look forward to for all its customs. For freshmen it is equally important.
“The freshmen cadets look forward to it because they get their RMO (round military object). It’s a coin that they keep with them. This is the first day they receive theirs,” Grace said. “It brings them into the big family.”
It is a mix of military conditions and customs with fun, added Daniel Kim, color guard commander and CVHS junior.
“Cadets were allowed to bring in guests outside the military. The [cadet] who set up the Military Ball invited a [guest] who was not a cadet. He sat at the head table with us,” Daniel said.
He added it was fun to have people from outside the program attend as it gave them a “taste of military tradition.”
“It is a big meal as a family,” Grace said.
Each year the JROTC mentor Lt. Col. David Worley invites special speakers to the Military Ball. This year the keynote speaker was Maj. General Mark MacCarley.
“The speaker was very student- oriented,” Daniel said.
“What I really liked about his speech was that he knows what ROTC is all about in high school. It is not about sending people off to the military. It is about getting leadership skills and confidence you wouldn’t otherwise get and taking [those skills] to where life takes you. That part of the speech resonated [with me] about what the program was like. It is about developing future good citizens,” Grace said.
Both Grace and Daniel spoke of the JROTC not as a military training program but as a leadership program. Grace added that she never planned a life in the military; however, the skills she learned while in the program have become invaluable in every aspect of her life.
“I have learned how to build a resume and know how to do interviews, which helped a lot for college interviews,” she added.
Daniel is planning on going into the Air Force Academy after graduating high school and entered the JROTC program with that goal in mind.
“But I have found that this community is much bigger,” he said. “Even though I want to go into the military the [program] has helped me develop into the person I am today.”
And although they have the customs, and the leadership skills, they are still teenagers.
“The Military Ball is like a prom but on a smaller scale and it is more eloquent with a three course meal,” Grace said. “And it is so nice to see everyone so dressed up.”