With parents, grandparents, and other family members watching, the U.S. Navy Junior ROTC program at Richards High School closed the 2012-13 school year with its annual awards ceremony and change of command.
Retired Navy Cmdr. Douglas Groters and retired Chief Petty Officer Dennis Reynolds, who manage the junior ROTC program at Richards, hosted the ceremony and presented the awards.
Students who won Honor Cadet Ribbons for leading their academic classes in grade point average included Oleksandr Gorobets, Alex Villafuerte, Robert Cook and Sydney Torres. Students who won a Distinguished Cadet ribbon — one each per academic class — for outstanding dedication to the JROTC program and academic excellence included Brianna O’Brien, Kylla Pate, Alex Villafuerte and Thad Spyrnal.
Individual award winners included Kylla Pate, American Legion Medal for Military Excellence; Kelly Scheafer and Lydell Tyler, American Legion Medal for Athletic Excellence; Bob Cook and Angeles Ochoa-Raya, Military Aptitude Award; Angeles Ochoa-Raya, Military Officers Association of America Leadership Award; Oleksandr Gorobets, Surface Navy Association Award for Excellence; Emily Bargouthi, Daughters of the American Revolution Award for Excellence; Michael Johnson, Veterans of Foreign Wars Leadership Medal; Donald Jones, Sojourners Patriotism Medal; and, Alex Lorenz, Military Order of World Wars Leadership Medal.
Josh Kamba was awarded the Daedalians Excellence Medal; Matas Leskauskas took home the Military Order of the Purple Heart award; Alex Villafuerte won the Sons of the American Revolution Award; and Thad Spyrnal was the recipient of the Navy League Theodore Roosevelt Medal. Other award recipients were Qwamarria Covington, Coast Guard Award for Military Excellence; Michael Marlow, Non-Commissioned Officers Association Service Medal; Tim Doran, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War Association Award; Sydney Torres, Surface Naval Associations 1st year cadet ribbon; and Rama Al-Ali, Celebrate Freedom Foundation Award for scholastic excellence.
The following students earned the American Veterans Medal for academic achievement, dedication to JROTC, and excellent military bearing: Sydney Torres, Rama Al-Ali, Minnie Espindola, Mel’Linda Cole, Korina Mendoza, Margaret Kowalski, Reyna Okampo, Jeremy Rivera, Cameron Smentek, Kelly Scheafer, Oswaldo Flores, Steven Grant, and Ryan Ramsaran.
One student from each academic class earned the Distinguished Cadet Ribbon for dedication to JROTC program and scholastic excellence. These students included (senior to freshman) Kylla Pate, Alex Villafuerte, Angeles Ochoa-Raya and Sydney Torres.
Next year, senior Alex Villafuerte will serve as company commander and junior Angeles Ochoa-Raya will serve as executive officer.