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Volunteer NJROTC cadets celebrate individual and Distinguished Unit honors

STAFF REPORT • May 8, 2019 at 6:15 PM

CHURCH HILL — Volunteer High School’s NJROTC celebrated its 11th consecutive Distinguished Unit recognition as well as several individual and unit awards during the annual awards night last week.

En route to earning its Distinguished Unit recognition, Volunteer’s NJROTC provided more than 2,000 hours of community service and an additional 1,000 hours of school service during this academic year.

Cadets marched in local parades, worked both Bristol NASCAR races, and participated in Hawkins County’s Veterans Day celebration, as well as hosting one orienteering meet, three rifle matches, and four academic competitions.

Cadets also participated in more than 40 competitions for various skills such as drill, color guard, academics, athletics, orienteering, and rifle marksmanship.

The marksmanship team ranked first among nearly 700 Navy JROTC units worldwide and took first place in the nation at the U.S. Army National Match for the second year in a row.

Cadets also conducted two overnight and 10 day trips to visit bases and colleges around the region and nationwide.

The cadets stayed busy throughout the year with nearly half participating in summer activities.

Academics and scholarships

Senior naval sciences instructor Maj. Steven Bickford noted that all this activity didn’t distract from academic success, with 40 percent of the cadets making honor roll during the first semester.

The 14 graduating seniors have been awarded more that $300,000 in scholarships plus much more in grants.

“The Volunteer High School Navy JROTC cadets realize that these achievements are not possible without the support of their families, their teachers, the school administration, and their community,” Bickford said. “The cadets extend a heartfelt thank you to all of those who helped make their achievements possible.”

Individual achievements

The VHS NJROTC held its annual awards night on May 2 to recognize the various accomplishments of the cadets.

Approximately 200 NJROTC academic and program awards were presented to the 58 cadets, and 38 awards were presented by veterans groups and community organizations.

Cadets stood in recognition of their Unit Service, Exemplary Personal Appearance, Exception Conduct, Aptitude, Outstanding Naval Science Platoon, and Varsity Letters for performance throughout the school year.

Cadets came to the stage to be recognized for the highest NJROTC awards and for the community and veterans organization awards.

Honor Cadet and Distinguished Cadet: freshman, Olivia Cattrell; sophomore, Abigail Rider; junior, Nicole Carvagno; and senior, Aaron Keith, who was also Distinguished Cadet, and Daniel Fritz, who was Honor Cadet.

Four Cadets were recognized for making a commitment to serve in the Armed Forces with a cord to wear at graduation: Daniel Fritz (Army Reserve, enlisted), Aaron Keith (Marine Corps, enlisted), Cole Nelson (Navy, enlisted), and Kayla Smith (Navy, enlisted).

Aaron Keith was recognized as the Cadet of the Year by Virginia Tech Navy ROTC.

Levi Trent received the Ladley Family Naval Aviation Award.

Changing of the guard

The 2019-2020 senior leaders were installed by passing the shoulder cord of the office and promoting the incoming leaders.

Cadet Commanding Officer Aaron Keith promoted and installed Cadet Commander Brandon Smith.

For executive officer cadet, Lt. Levi Trent promoted and installed Lt. Jaden-Ann Fraser.

For command master chief, Cadet Master Chief Petty Officer Jaden-Ann Fraser promoted and installed Cadet Master Chief Petty Officer Abigail Rider.

The graduating seniors received plaques and were “rung ashore” in a traditional naval ceremony, announcing their formal departure from the unit.

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