Members of the Riverbank High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC), led by Master Chief Mike Foster and Chief Warrant Officer Four Harry Rushing, gathered for their 20th annual Military Inspection and Awards Ceremony in the Fauria Gym on Thursday, April 10.
The cadets were in their military dress uniforms and stood in formation before the festivities began for the Pass-in-Review, which was their final event. The stands at the RHS gym on campus were filled with family, friends, city councilmembers, school board members, and other city officials.
Prior to the final event, the cadets participated in the Annual Military Inspection. The guest inspector this year was Commander Navy Veteran, Mayor Richard O’Brien (retired) who inspected the cadet’s uniforms and questioned them on the chain-of-command. O’Brien also inspected the storeroom and other areas the program utilizes on campus.
“The cadets were nervous and probably under the most stress they have had to face in their young lives,” said Foster.
The cadet staff also gave O’Brien a PowerPoint presentation regarding the unit.
“The cadets did very well in the personnel inspection,” said O’Brien. “They were very prepared.”
Chief Warrant Officer Rushing was the master of ceremonies for the Pass-in-Review and the Color Guard presented the colors.
RHS Principal Diana Jimenez said a few words to the guests and Commander O’Brien followed with a speech, adding that the program instills core values like patriotism, leadership, community service, personal honor, self-reliance, and individual discipline.
“This activity also reinforces my hat as mayor that provides an alternative to gangs and provides incentive to live healthy and drug free,” said O’Brien. “The cadets are taught the core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.”
After the speeches, the cadets proceeded with the Pass-in-Review and marched around the gym in formation to demonstrate their skills. There were approximately 60 cadets that participated in this event and they were split into two platoons, Alpha and Bravo.
“The Pass-in-Review is a time-honored tradition that showcases the commands’ ability to perform as a unit and display their cohesiveness,” said O’Brien. “They did a superb job.”
“When the real deal happened, they took it more serious than I thought they would, so for that, I am very proud of them,” stated Foster.
This year’s staff was younger than normal with Commanding Officer junior, Jose Granados, Ensign, Admin Officer Elena Ortiz, and Ensign, Operations Officer, Nathan White.
“They stepped up and did very well,” said Foster.
O’Brien expressed that he was not disappointed in their performance during the Pass-in-Review or in the supply spaces inspections. He added that he was very impressed with the knowledge that the cadets had on the Chain of Command.
“I thought the cadets all looked very sharp,” said Riverbank Unified School District Board of Trustees President, Elizabeth Meza. “I have always been impressed with their dedication, management skills, preparedness of these students and the program.”
The NJROTC program has been at Riverbank High School since 1993 and according to Foster, it started with a teacher who saw a news article about the NJROTC at Luther-Burbank High School. The high school sent a letter to the Navy about getting a unit for their school and it has been part of RHS ever since.
Foster has been instructing the NJROTC program at RHS for the past 14 years.
“I visited their classroom and was impressed with the lessons being taught,” said O’Brien. “I did have discussions with the leadership and they thoroughly understood the roles, responsibilities and direction they are pursuing.”
“The skills developed will help students learn if the military is right for them or allow them to learn life skills that they will be able to use in their future endeavors,” stated Meza.
As the ceremony ended, the cadets relaxed and were dismissed, having passed the inspection with flying colors.