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For one night every March, Mooseheart’s Naval Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC) company gathers in a theme of honor and celebration for its Military Ball. This year, that night was March 18.
The company, which includes all high school students in a mandatory program, dresses in its finery – boys in dress uniforms and girls in prom-like gowns. All five service branches are honored with a toast and those who serve in the military are remembered. Then the dancing starts and the company settles into an evening of conversation and relaxation.
In many ways, though they are not serving actively, Mooseheart’s Military Ball mirrors those held by military personnel all over the world, who use the occasion as a moment to take a break from the serious and sometimes deadly business their jobs entail.
Planning for this year’s Mooseheart Military Ball began not long after the 2015 celebration.
“It’s a leadership exercise for them. I gave them a catalog after last year’s ball and said ‘you saw what they did this year. What would you like to see next year,’ I told them it wasn’t my Military Ball, it was theirs,” U.S. Navy Warrant Officer (Ret.) Rick Smith said. Smith is Mooseheart’s lead NJROTC officer.
This has been a year of positive transformation for Mooseheart’s NJROTC. Central in final phase of the school’s three-year, $11.5 million renovation is a new classroom and air rifle range for the program. Work is nearly complete and students will begin using that space in April.
Among scheduled events to take place in the gymnasium that is also part of the final portion of the renovation is the May 6 Change of Command ceremony.
“That’s going to be an exciting thing for all of us,” Smith said. “We’re really excited about the air rifle range, because we have excelled in competitions recently.”
This year marked the second that Southern California Moose Legion 6 funded the Military Ball, and Smith said those monies were very welcome.
“We’re really, really grateful for that. We appreciate them for taking care of us,” Smith said.