By Hannah Clere
The lights flash as students celebrate the year’s hard work and dance as a family.
“It gives them a chance to get out on a formal event and let their hair down,” said Senior Naval Science Instructor (SNSI) Michael Epperson.
The evening’s event, known as the ROTC Military Ball, was a large success. Existing as a break from the year’s hard work thus far, the celebration allowed students to let loose for the evening.
“This is kind of better than the prom because it’s placed in the middle of the year,” said Naval Science Instructor (NSI) Michael Beal. He explained that this placement gives the opportunity for a mid-year recess. “These kids work so hard.”
ROTC recently had the Annual Military Inspection, which they had to prepare for. The military ball was thought to be a good prerequisite for the work done at the inspection.
“It’s a good time to reward ourselves after the Annual Military Inspection,” said junior Jenna Thomas.
Other thoughts of the celebration reflect on the attitudes of the ROTC students and the variety of mannerism they must display.
“It shows how we can be serious one moment and then have fun the next,” said freshman Thomas Sprayberry.
Besides the obvious proceedings of the event, such as dancing, dining, and socializing, the night was filled with many traditions. It started with Thomas announcing the guest speaker, principal Rob Willman, and explaining each military ritual.
“I kind of kicked off the military ball and explained the traditions and customs,” said Thomas.
The evening began with the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem being sung by sophomore Alex Voyles.
“I got to do the National Anthem by going to Gunner,” said Voyles. He explained how he volunteered to sing and was honored that he had the opportunity to do so.
One of the other key traditions was the Fallen Comrade Table, a lone table with symbolic items and an empty chair, representing the soldiers who could not be there. This is the custom at all Military dining events. Along with this tradition were toasts and a cake cutting ceremony.
“The cake ceremony is more symbolic than anything,” said senior cadet Katie Hertog. The ritual involved Hertog, the oldest cadet, giving the first slice of cake to the youngest cadet, Chloe Tackett. It symbolizes the passing down of experience and knowledge.
Although, the event was not only an opportunity for a break and to present tradition. It was also simply a time for the ROTC to congregate and celebrate as a family.
“It’s an annual tradition where family celebrates,” said Beal. The evening was stressed as a family gathering at the beginning speeches.
The event took much planning and fundraising to happen.
“Cadets get together and decide where they want to have it,” said Epperson of the planning process.
There were also many small things that were put into the big picture, such as the people who helped make the evening very memorable. Photographer Millie Rogers had a daughter in the program, causing her to want to come back and take photographs of the students.
“She didn’t have a lot of friends in high school and then she joined ROTC,” said Rogers of the effect ROTC had on her daughter.
Rogers added on to the family connection in the program by adding that ROTC “made her feel like she belonged to a family.” This idea was expressed by everyone at the event, not necessarily by their words, but by the closeness of their actions.
“It’s not mandatory, they want to be here,” said Epperson.
Everyone seemed to have a ball at this year’s Annual ROTC Military Ball. The military family welcomes any and all to join ROTC in the future.
“I think that anyone who’s going to read this should know that ROTC is amazing and they should join,” said Hertog.