Mooseheart's NJROTC celebrates tradition at annual military ball
There is much history and tradition with Mooseheart High School's Naval Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Military Ball, which took place March 10.
The male cadets wear dress uniforms while the female students wear beautiful gowns for an evening of celebration and reflection as they enter beneath a saber arch. Grape juice toasts are given for each of the five service branches, and then a king and queen are crowned from the senior class.
Following the formal ceremony, cadets socialize and dance, and Mooseheart's students enjoyed their time together, much like their real-life counterparts, for whom a military ball is a break from the serious and dangerous business of serving in the nation's armed forces.
"We have some strong personalities in our NJROTC leadership this year," lead NJROTC instructor U.S. Navy Warrant Officer (Ret.) Rick Smith said. "As they planned this, they all put their ideas in, and they compromised and put it together. Their true character came out, and I'm truly impressed by that."
At Mooseheart, all high school students are required to participate in NJROTC. They experience NJROTC through classroom studies and drill team or color guard activities, and Smith said the Military Ball commands a special place on the calendar.
"They spend a lot of time in the classroom and drilling with Gunny (U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. (Ret.) Ruben Hinton)," Smith said. "It's nice to let them dress up in their uniforms without worrying about inspection but just to have a good time."
For the third straight year, Southern California Moose Legion 6 provided the funding for the Military Ball. Ben Pendleton, who was instrumental in the original funding in 2015 as Legion 6 secretary, is now the California-Nevada Moose Association President. Pendleton attended the Military Ball with Moose Legion Past International President Mark Klein and said funding has already been secured for the 2018 Military Ball.
"We love it, our jurisdiction loves it and we look forward to it every year," Pendleton said. "When we first got the opportunity to do this, there wasn't one negative comment from anybody. Everybody was eager to support this and we're going to continue with it."
Since Moose Legion 6 stepped forward, military ball funding has been consistent, something Smith said is welcomed not only by himself but by the Mooseheart cadets as well.
"They communicate with us all the time," Smith said. "They were even asking us if we needed more money. They've been so generous. Going back years to when we worried sometimes about the money -- it's nice to not ever have to worry about that again."
Founded in 1913, Mooseheart is supported completely through private donations -- the great majority of which come from the one million men and women of the Moose fraternal organization throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Bermuda. Moose International headquarters is located on the Mooseheart campus.
Mooseheart is currently home to approximately 200 students, from preschool to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment.