Hope JROTC Celebrates 20th Year

Leads Opening Day parade in Silver Lake, holds Military Ball and participates in Annual Raider Competition

Members of the JROTC Color Guard perform at the Military Ball. From left are Scott Garabian, Michael Torres, Ryan Vongkaisone, Manny Rivera, Albert Rosato and Axel Pena.

Members of the JROTC Color Guard perform at the Military Ball. From left are Scott Garabian, Michael Torres, Ryan Vongkaisone, Manny Rivera, Albert Rosato and Axel Pena.

The Hope High School Blue Wave Battalion is enjoying a busy spring of ceremonial events and competitions as the unit celebrates its 20th year at Hope High School.

The Army Junior ROTC is led by LTC (ret) Chris Corbett as senior Army instructor and MSG (ret) Alan Kushner, Army instructor. The Blue Wave Battalion is the only JROTC in the City of Providence and is the largest of five throughout the State of Rhode Island.

Currently, 161 cadets are enrolled in the program, which is offered as a four-year elective at Hope. JROTC was formed by the National Defense Act of 1916 and is currently in place at more than 1,300 high schools in the United States and several foreign countries. Unlike the Senior Program in colleges that trains leaders for the U.S. Army, Junior ROTC’s mission is to “motivate young people to become better citizens.”

The Community Color Guard performs more than 30 times each year at events such as the Providence College Friars basketball games, at veterans’ organizations and events throughout the state, marches in the Providence and Pawtucket St. Patrick’s Day Parades, the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade, and in drill competitions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The JROTC led the parade of players of the Silver Lake Little League onto the field for their Opening Day Ceremony on April 18.

Hope High School’s Blue Wave JROTC Battalion also held their 20th Anniversary Military Ball on May 9 at the Hilton Hotel in Providence that was attended by almost 200 present and past cadets, their guests and faculty. The JROTC curriculum mandates that a special occasion be held each year to introduce cadets to a semi-formal occasion.

In order to keep the costs of the event low, the cadets engaged in fundraising all year, including car washes and sales of cookie dough, pie, T-shirts and sweatshirts. This year, the tickets were just $25 per person.

The program began with a traditional toast, made with sparkling cider, to the President, to the Army, to JROTC and to the ladies, followed by a full dinner and another tradition, the cake cutting ceremony. Battalion Commander, Senior Cadet Colonel and Senior Council President Yuri Goncalves cut the cake with an Army Sabre, the symbol of leadership.

This year, in honor of the battalion’s twentieth anniversary, First Sergeant Kushner introduced a Punch Bowl Ceremony, consisting of a variety of ingredients significant of the past twenty years. In all, ten suspicious fluids were added. Among those brave enough to taste this witch’s brew were Principal John Hunt, teachers Amanda Vetelino and Maryann. Russo, Goncalves, and, of course, the Colonel and First Sergeant!

The mood was festive and the rest of the evening was spent dancing.  It was a special night for the Blue Wave Battalion.

Last fall and winter, the battalion competed in their Annual Raider Competition, a major event that stresses both individual athleticism as well as teamwork. The event was held at New Britain High School in New Britain, Conn. and was attended by six JROTC Battalions; New Britain, Hillhouse and Westhill in Connecticut; Hope, Cranston and Rogers in Rhode Island.

Senior cadets at the Military Ball.

Senior cadets at the Military Ball.

Each school’s team consisted of nine male and female members. The Hope team trained hard since the end of Drill season in January.  This year, the Blue Wave’s team consisted of juniors Blanca Colato, Danny Jorge, Dimetri Narvaez, Marcos Beato, Marvin Salazar, Enil Navarro and Ingrid Morales, and Freshmen Jose Corrtoreal, Hamlet Paulino, John Garnetto and Ivan Abreu.

There are four events, the first of which is the Army Physical Fitness Test consisting of as many pushups as can be done in two minutes, as many sit-ups and then a two-mile timed run. The individual scores are then combined to reach a team score.

The second event is First Aid and that consists of one of three assessments, with each Cadet not knowing which of the three will be tested. One event is to stop bleeding, another is to treat a casualty who has stopped breathing and the third is to splint a suspected fracture. All three have conditions and standards and treatment must be “by the book.”

The third, and probably the most fun for the Cadets, is to assemble, cross, and disassemble a one-rope bridge between two points and over a gap. The event is timed twice; once going and then coming back. Only certain knots can be used and the bridge must be crossed in a specified way.

The last event is the most grueling: a team 5K road race with equipment. The team must run the 3.2 miles and finish as a team within 20 meters of each other.

The Hope team won a third-place trophy in the 5K run and Blanca Colato won a trophy for the Ironwoman, having the highest score among all females in the physical fitness test. Congratulations to both the Blue Wave Battalion and Blanca Colato!

The unit’s schedule is rapidly filling up for the remainder of the school year. The Blue Wave Battalion marched in Charlestown’s Memorial Day Parade on May 24, will host a booth at the Rhode Island National Guard Air Show on May 30 and 31, and will host their Awards Ceremony and Change of Command on June 4.

The Color Guard will present the colors for the State Championship Track Meet at Brown Stadium and will observe the National Guard’s Special Operations parachute jump in West Warwick, both on June 6, and will perform at some of the district’s high school graduations.

Article submitted by Master Sgt. Alan Kushner, Blue Wave Battalion