During Elkin High School’s recent 2014 JROTC Awards Ceremony, JROTC instructor Maj. Roy Ferguson recognized upwards of 30 cadets for achievements and standards of excellence.
Sgt. Kenneth Abrams, along with military personnel, and Principal Joel Hoyle gave the cadets awards. The Dixon Auditorium was full of cadets, families and visitors.
Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe thanked cadets and all in attendance for their support of JROTC. He honored Ferguson and Abrams for their leadership. “We are fortunate,” said Bledsoe.
The ceremony proceeded from general to more distinguished awards. The highly coveted Purple Heart Award was awarded to Cadet Maj. Erick Fuentes, who received six awards.
The Purple Heart Award honored Fuentes’ leadership, high academic success, physical fitness and ability to gather respect among peers. It was given by Spencer Harrison with The Military Award of the Purple Heart, adjutant chapter #285.
About receiving the Purple Heart Award, Fuentes said, “It shows the dedication that I have put into this JROTC program, but I could not have possibly achieved it without the help of ‘Sarge’ or ‘Major’ or my fellow cadets. I just want to say thank you to all of them and that this award is in honor of them.”
Chaplain cadet, Brandon Lee Garris, opened the ceremonial formalities with a prayer of gratitude and blessing for cadets and their service. Ferguson reminded those attending that more than 90 percent of cadets are CPR certified and thanked local rescue personnel Dustin Wilkins and Kevin Shore for making that possible.
Before awards were handed out, a moving movie tribute composed by Cadet Aaron Harless showed cadets and Raiders practicing drills, working in a service capacity and having fun in recreational outings and activities. Cadets were pictured enjoying activities like eating pizza, fishing, canoeing and camping. In a particularly moving set of slides, Ferguson and Abrams along with cadets are visiting military veterans and other seniors residing in nursing/retirement homes.
The transformation into leadership was evident to a full auditorium as slide after slide of cadets at work and play, progressed to the music. The poignant lyrics from the song “Second Chance” rang out, “I just saw Hayley’s comet, she waved, Said, ‘why you always running in place?…. Tell my mother, tell my father, I’ve done the best I can, to make them realize this is my life, I hope they understand…’”
Awards were given in order listed:
The Leadership Medal was received by cadets Jeremy Pierce, Seth Haynes, Jose Rojas, John Walker and Aaron Lord.
The JROTC Gold Award was received by Matthew Waddell, Marco Bravo, Luis, Anorve, Micheal Carter and Amy Javier for demonstrating consistent initiative.
The Gold Star Award was received by “Cadet Rector, Erin Lockaby, Giulani Pallotti, Victoria Tilley, Grant Lloyd and Esmeralda Sanchez,” for exceptional staff achievements.
JROTC Soldiers Award was given for selfless service and received by Aaron Harless, Evelyn Alberto, Brandon Garris, Asante Adams and Brandon Bradley.
Gold Torch Award was awarded for potential and past performance and received by William Allen, Alan Burrell, Erica Pineda, Cristinia Nava and Dulce Rodriquez.
Drill awards were Gold, Cadet Erick Fuentes; Silver, Cadet Walker Longworth, Aaron Sturdivant and Dorian Jackson.
In addition, Ferguson said cadet performances were so good they choose to award Bronze for first-semester Color Guard to “Cadet Bobbitt,” Alex Dickerson, Daniel Cortes and DeYonna Gonzales, along with Bronze medals for Duet competition received by Kyle Thomas and Karla Romero.
Superior Cadet Awards were awarded by grade levels. They were received by Josiah Blevins Grant Lloyd (LET 1); John Walker and Giuliana Pallotti (LET 2) ; Aaron Harless, Aaron Sturdivant (LET 3); Walker Longworth and Erick Fuentes (LET 4).
Superior cadets who have demonstrated exceptional future potential were awarded to Max Dumas and Erin Lockaby.
Awards of higher honor were: Fourth Brigade Essay Winner, De’Yonna Gonzales; National Guard Leadership Award, Walker Longworth; U.S. Army Scholar Athlete, Josiah Blevens and Karla Fuentes; Scottish Rite Award (given for demonstrating great Americanism, top 25%of class), Aaron Sturdivant; Braxton Bragg Award (for loyalty, patriotism, and dedication), Daniel Cortes, Paul Fluet, Nick Palloti; AMVETS (character and patriotism to school and community), Kyle Myers; Daughter of the American Revolution Award (top 25 percent of class, character, loyalty and patriotism), Courtney Cobler; Veterans of Foreign Wars Award, Aaron Sturdivant, Erick Fuentes for JROTC and academic achievement; Reserve Officers Association Award, Daniel Cortes (commitment and military aptitude for further service); Sons of the American Revolution Award, Alex Dickerson (leadership, soldierly bearing); United States Marine Corps Scholastic Excellence Award, Erick Fuentes; Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award, Daniel Cortes, De’Yonna Gonzales; Semper Fidelis Music Award, Matthew Waddell; Sons of Confederate Veterans Hunley Award, Sidney McMillian (honor, courage, commitment); Military Officer Association Award, Erick Fuentes (top of class, physical fitness, leadership); Non-Commissioned Officers Association Award, Karla Romero, Aaron Sturdivant; Purple Heart Award, Erick Fuentes.
The VFW awards were given by Sam Bishop and Joe Gibbs of the local Elkin post.
Waddell relayed his happiness about receiving The Semper Fidelis Music Award. He said, “Music is a bridge that links all cultures and ages. Music is at the center of every cultures, history, and has been important in war and peace. As a musician this is very special to me, and it is an honor to receive it from the United States Marine Corps.”
About receiving the Scottish Rite Award, Sturdivant said, “It was a great honor because it shows that I have worked hard in my schoolwork and also I showed great Americanism to our great country.”
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.