3 February, 2023
On Saturday, January 21st, Atholton High School hosted the annual Military Ball. With dancing, food, and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) traditions, students are able to dress up and enjoy an evening with their friends. For the fun evening to begin, the planning process of the ball is the most important part.
The Military Ball occurs annually at either Atholton High School, Oakland Mills High School, and Howard High School, where JROTC is offered. The ball is mandatory for any school that has a JROTC program. It happens so students can be prepared for a formal dinner or dance, and promotes esprit de corps for JROTC members and their guests. One of the leaders of JROTC, Sergeant Gardino, said that while planning the ball is stressful, it generally works out.
“We rotate hosting the ball between the three units from Howard County. Next year it will be Oakland Mills High School’s turn to host the Military Ball. The JROTC Instructors as well as visiting cadets (volunteers) will stay afterwards to help out with cleaning up,” he said.
Preparing for the Military Ball takes a lot of time and work from everyone in the program. Sergeant Gordiano said the process starts in August by picking a date and putting it on the school calendar. The upperclassmen are in charge of picking a theme, and ordering food, chairs, tables and booking a DJ is also part of the planning process. All of this planning is what makes the ball so fun because when it all comes together, people can enjoy the hard work from planning. The traditions that take place are also what makes the Military Ball so special.
“The traditions are receiving line, which is a formal introduction from senior instructors, administrators, unit instructors, battalion/flight leadership, for welcoming cadets and their guests. Also, there is presenting the national colors, MIA/POW Table in honor for all service members who are not accountable for the past conflicts. And for dress codes, the wearing of class A uniform for the male/female cadets,” Sergeant Gordiano said.
For the students themselves, they have to prepare in other ways too. Grace Varda, who is part of the JROTC program explains that the most stressful part is the outfit. The dress code for men and women differ. Grace says that for women, the dress code is a dress with a closed back, and not too high of a slit. And for men, the class A uniform should be worn.
“My least favorite part is searching for a dress that fits the regulations that us women have to follow for the ball,” she said.
However, after the stress of preparing, the fun awaits for them that evening. The two to three hour ball consists of dancing, eating, and socializing, just like any other dance, except for the traditions that are held. Emily Schmeckpeper, a cadet in the JROTC program, went last year, when it was held at Howard High School, and every year she has gone she said she had fun with all of her friends, and the surrounding environment.
“The most exciting part of the ball was the food and the dancing. Every year the food is amazing, and dancing with my friends never gets old,” Emily explained.
The Military Ball is a very important event for the JROTC program. It is a way to support and congratulate people who have served in the military, and it is also a fun way to socialize with peers. Although the preparation for the ball is stressful, and can be time consuming, the outcome is what matters.
Schmeckpeper said, “ The Military Ball is very important, but what makes it memorable is the time I get to spend with the great people around me.”