JROTC Has Memorable Night


On the Saturday evening of February 16th, 2019, the Weston Ranch HS Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Cougar Battalion hosted the annual Manteca-Ripon Brigade JROTC Military Ball at the National Guard Armory by the Stockton Metropolitan Airport. The ball’s theme was “Cupid’s Enchanted Night” in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Over 240 cadets, escorts, and guests enjoyed the traditional military customs and camaraderie. Attendees from JROTC programs across the five MUSD high schools (Weston Ranch, East Union, Manteca, Lathrop, andSierra) as well as Ripon High School, spent the evening enjoying all festivities. JROTC instructors, administrators, chaperones, and their spouses equally enjoyed the festivities and superintendent Dr. Clark Burke, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was the opening speaker. He received an appreciation plaque from Cadet/Lieutenant Colonel Lissette Loera, the Cougar battalion commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Cerezo, WRHS Senior Army Instructor. Also, Mrs. Clara Schmiedt, Director of Secondary Education, received an appreciation plaque for her years of support to the JROTC program, an award first established in the district in the early 1990s.

Weston Ranch HS Cadet/Sergeant First Class Carlos Lopez narrated the POW-MIA table ceremony to pay humble tribute to those military servicemembers that may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation, and internment. Upon completion of the table ceremony and the music “Taps,” the five commanders – Weston Ranch Cougar Battalion C/LTC Loera, Manteca Buffalo Battalion C/LTC Ivan Gomez, Lathrop Spartan Battalion C/LTC Briana Manley, East Union Lancer Battalion C/LTC Erica Canas, and Ripon Indian Battalion C/LTC Alexis Ramirez – each took turns toasting for everyone to raise their wine glasses filled with sparkling apple cider to America, Commander-in-Chief, Armed Forces, Army Cadet Command, and JROTC. Afterward, everyone ate the delicious dinner from the banquet line filled with chicken with Chipotle sauce, pasta, salad, rolls, and chips with salsa. Cadets enjoyed the dessert of a traditional JROTC cake, but, first, a cake-cutting ceremony with a saber was conducted by the battalion commanders, Dr. Burke, and LTC Melan Salas, the Ball’s guest speaker.

LTC Salas is the Professor of Military Science of the Santa Clara University Army ROTC Bronco Battalion and graduated from the University of Guam. He brought his assistant, Master Sergeant Vernon Jackson, and two cadets Victoria Whang and Irish Manalang, from the Bay Area to experience a JROTC military ball. Both LTC Salas and cadet Manalang addressed the attendees with poignant stories about their lives, why they were interested in the military and Army ROTC, and gave inspirational advice to the cadets and their guests. Cadet Manalang was also a high school student that joined her school’s JROTC program. As with Dr. Burke and Mrs. Schmiedt, C/LTC Loera and LTC Cerezo presented an appreciation plaque to LTC Salas and a Cougar Battalion challenge coin to cadet Manalang.

With the formal portion of the ball to a close, a Frankie Valli song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” played for all the couples to slow dance to and start the less formal and fun part of the night. Manteca DJ James Greer, a US Navy veteran, provided entertaining music throughout the night and everyone took advantage of the PresleyPix Photobooth which produced over 600 pictures of guests posing with funny props and sunglasses. Tonight was a “Cupid’s Enchanted Night” to remember!