High school students in the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps — better known as JROTC — gathered Friday, Dec. 13, for the 11th annual Col. Donald M. Wade Joint Services Military Ball held at North Point High School. The annual event celebrates the program that has a membership of more than 860 students attending one of the county’s seven high schools. The ball is an opportunity for instructors to honor seniors who have participated in their respective schools JROTC.
Emma O’Rourke, a St. Charles High School sophomore, has been a member of her school’s JROTC since she was a freshman. She is interested in enlisting in the U.S. Navy after graduation and likes the opportunities and skills JROTC gives her. “And it’s fun,” O’Rourke said. “It feels like a family. I have grown as a person. It has given me a lot of confidence.”
Four branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are represented by the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) JROTC programs. Maurice J. McDonough and Thomas Stone high schools have U.S. Army programs; the U.S. Navy is represented by La Plata and Westlake high schools; St. Charles High School has a U.S. Marine Corps program; and the U.S. Air Force is represented by Henry E. Lackey and North Point high schools.
The ball is named in honor of the late Col. Donald Wade, who served as a member of the Board of Education of Charles County and was instrumental in bringing the JROTC program to CCPS. The Joint Services ball incorporates various military traditions including the presentation of colors, toasts and honoring Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action.
After dinner — which is prepared and served by students in North Point’s culinary arts Career and Technical Education (CTE) program — more traditions are honored including having the youngest and oldest cadets cut a cake, and a king and queen of the ball randomly selected from the names of seniors submitted at the start of the evening.
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,521 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.