ROTC Award Ceremony

Matthew Rubenstein, Online Editor

From cyber security to the Color Guard, Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps has it all. This diversity of activities becomes most apparent at the annual NJROTC awards ceremony.
One of the most important titles awarded at the ceremony is the Distinguished Cadet title. This year’s Distinguished Cadet awardees were freshman cadet Second Class Petty Officer Matthew Martin, sophomore cadet Chief Petty Officer Faith Ellis, junior cadet Senior Chief Petty Officer Olivia Van Ry, and senior cadet Lieutenant Commander Alex Pham.
“Whether it’s the most hard-working, the most dedicated, best uniform; it’s just overall who Captain and Chief think the best cadet is,” Ellis said.
The other important title awarded was the Honor Platoon, given to the platoon that succeeds most in academics, and in the community. This year, the Honor Platoon was awarded to Echo Platoon, led by Ellis.
“Knowing that my cadets worked hard enough to earn this award means a lot to me,” Ellis said.
The final award of the night was a surprise for the students in the NJROTC program: the unit as a whole received the Distinguished Unit award. This award recognizes the top 30% of NJROTC programs worldwide, and this year marks the first time that Liberty has received the award since 2015.
NJROTC had one last event after the ceremony: their underwater vehicle team was competing at the SeaPerch national competition from June 1 to June 2 at the University of Maryland. In the program, teams build and pilot a remotely operated vehicle.
One of the program’s biggest obstacles has been the lack of a water facility at Liberty. “The team has been working hard ever since they found out they qualified despite our disadvantages,” Chief Matthew Spears said.
The focus of the NJROTC program going forward will be its continued integration into the Liberty community. “I think the biggest strength that we’ve had this year is our involvement with the rest of the Liberty High School body,” Spears said. “We’ve taken a more active role within the community, and we’re looking to build on that next year.”