By Marlene Betancourt ’17 and Katia Gomez ’17
On Thursday Nov. 5, MCJROTC cadets, Marines, and special guest, such as teachers and parents, gathered in the cafeteria in order to have a ceremony to commemorate the birthday of the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps Ball is a celebration/ritual for Marines across the whole country. A remembrance of the Marine birthday on Nov. 10. GySgt. Alvarez, MCJROTC instructor, added that the ball is about tradition and enforcement of regulations.
When arriving in the cafeteria, it was decorated a certain way such as having the tables at an angle, with chairs facing forward, class of 2016 picture frames for all seniors, small table decorations of the U.S. and Marine Corps flag, and the Marine Corps colors around the cafeteria poles, scarlet and gold.
When the ceremony started, the higher ranking cadets got escorted by their guests to the head table along with other guests. Once all the guests had been escorted, color guard presented the colors. After the colors had been posted, the national anthem was sung by senior Isabel Del Valle. Following the national anthem, GySgt. Alvarez welcomed the guests and cadets, followed off by a prayer for the food they were going to receive. One part of the ceremony consisted of a motivational video being shown.
First Sergeant Westbrook, guest of honor and JROTC instructor from Curie Metro, was one of the guest speakers who spoke about being a Marine and the motivation students must have. Junior C/1st Lt Erika Aro explained, “[my favorite part is] when the guest of honor speaks his wise words telling us cadets [experiences]. It’s very interesting to hear. I call it a motivational talk”
One of the parts of the ceremony was the cake cutting tradition, where the youngest cadet and the oldest Marine both cut a piece of cake. According to senior C/LtCol Silvia Chilel, ” The eldest, 1stSgt. Westbrook, symbolizes experience, knowledge, respect, and the past. The youngest present symbolizes the virility of youth, of the future, and the hope of a brighter future. The cake cutting ceremony symbolizes the union between this generation and the past generations.” Chilel described this as her favorite part of the celebration because it shows that cadets really like to be involved. The ball not only celebrates the Marine Corps birthday, but it also brings cadets together to enjoy a night together.
A commemorative moment was when The Table of Fallen Tributes, which includes a cover, a candle, a red rose, and other items, was presented. Alvarez stated, “It is an invitation for those who could not be with us. The candle represents an eternal flame. It represents that we have not forgotten Marines. Aro also added that it’s a way to show that [Marines] are still in our minds and we honor the great sacrifice that they’ve done for us. It’s also for the Marines that are out there right now, risking their lives for us.
Following all the traditions, the cadets, Marines, and special guests were invited to get food in an orderly fashion. The meal included rice, chicken, salad, and fruit among other options. To top it off, dessert was the cake, which was cut the traditional way.
When the ceremony concluded, all cadets sung the Marine Corps hymn. After finishing up the ceremony, students were invited to have a great time with other cadets at the dance held in the gym, which included a dj and neon lights.
Overall, “The ball would not [have] happened without the leadership of dedicated cadets. In addition, we also attribute our success to GySgt. Alvarez who always guides us when our leadership hits a plateau,” expressed Chilel.