The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 16, 2014

102 celebrate, remember

Memorial held for fallen graduate

SUNBURY — SUNBURY — Members of Shikellamy High School’s Army JROTC program celebrated Sunday during the 19th annual military ball.

The Valentine’s Day-themed event was held at the Sunbury Social Club and had 102 cadets and their guests, for a total of about 150. A dance followed a slide show and buffet meal.

The class size is above average, said Lt. Col. Joseph Walsh, senior Army instructor for the JROTC program.

 Last year’s class was the largest at 122.

“The kids look forward to it every year,” Walsh said. “They love it.”

“It’s a time for all of us to get together formally,” said senior Zoe Berkheimer, command sergeant major of the JROTC program.

This is the first year the ball was held at the Sunbury Social Club because the students asked for the change. It had been held at the high school in the past.

Featured was a memorial to Sgt. Brett Swank, a 2001 graduate of Shikellamy High School and a battalion command sergeant major during his senior year in the JROTC program. He died in Iraq in January 2005.

The ball also had toasts to groups and people including the president of the United States, the U.S. Armed Forces, Shikellamy High School, school district administrators and fallen comrades.

The guest speaker was Terry Roden, the first senior Army instructor for Shikellamy’s JROTC program and founder of the military ball in 1995.

Roden, an Army veteran, also served as the principal of Shikellamy High School from November 1998 until his retirement in 2011.

“The whole program is built on doing something more” for the community, Roden said. “It builds character for kids, knowing that there’s something more than just themselves.”

The JROTC members are regularly involved in charity work, including clothing drives, blood drives and soup kitchens.

Spc. Nicole Buard, a 2010 graduate, was also in attendance. She had served in Kuwait with the National Guard for nine months, arriving back home in July. She worked as a mechanic, performing maintenance work. She expects another deployment shortly.

She said she enjoyed being back at the JROTC ball. “It brings back old memories,” she said.

“It’s always nice to see the first sergeant and colonel again.”

 

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