LA PLATA, Md. (December 26, 2018)—The Col. Donald M. Wade Joint Services Military Ball was held on Dec. 7, a solemn anniversary for Americans. The day marked the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event that ushered in the U.S. military's and America's participation in World War II.
Known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Dec. 7 honors those who lost their lives during the attack and the survivors who fought at Pearl Harbor and in the Pacific. For Charles County public high school students—who were babies or not even born at the time of 9/11—the attacks are learned about in history classes, and the honor of serving the country is woven into Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps' (JROTC) objectives of instilling citizenship and personal responsibility.
The annual military ball recognizes seniors from the seven high schools who take part in the JROTC program, celebrating traditions culled from different branches of the military and civilian life. There is a receiving line, dinner, presentations, a cake cutting and the naming of a king and queen of the dance. This year, Westlake High School seniors Anna Scarafile and Alexis Adame were crowned the event's royalty. The military ball is a chance for cadets of different schools and branches to meet each other and learn more about JROTC.
"It gives you structure," said Javienn White, a Westlake High School freshman in the school's U.S. Navy JROTC program. "I joined to better myself. Our instructor uses big words, like SAT and ACT words. We learn a lot."
Retired Navy Lt. Comm. R.W. Whittingham is Westlake's instructor. He views the JROTC program as a benefit for students. "It offers an opportunity for growth," he said.
Erik Pressley, a junior at St. Charles High School, joined the JROTC program to "become a better person," he said. "It's building maturity and integrity," Pressley added. "It teaches me to show respect toward other people."
The ball was named to honor the late Wade, a former Board member and retired U.S. Air Force colonel who brought the JROTIC program to Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and to those in Prince George's County.