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Summer on the seas; Oxford's NJROTC cadets' busy vacation.

OXFORD - Summer vacation: A time for relaxing by the pool with a good book, working on the tan, hanging out with friends and avoiding any glances at the rapidly turning pages of the calendar.

Maybe for most of us - but not for the cadets enrolled in the Naval Junior ROTC program at Oxford High School and Bartlett Junior Senior High School in Webster. For these students, crafting an essay on "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" should be an easy task.

In June, Oxford's NJROTC unit was notified that it had received the 2007 Distinguished Unit with Honors Award, the unit's eighth straight such award. Oxford High Principal David H. Grenier and cadet staff and instructors broke the news to excited students, and the surprise announcement was also made at the group's annual year-end awards banquet hosted by the Auburn Lodge of Elks.

According to a press release issued by retired Navy Cmdr. Michael C. Masley Jr., senior Naval Science instructor at OHS and head of the NJROTC program, the selection process takes into account a multitude of cadet activities, unit achievements in academics, drill and color guard and other team competitions, and levels of student participation both in and out of the unit.

Results of the November 2006 annual area manager inspection, and multiple reports assessing the unit's effectiveness in meeting basic goals established by Congress and administrative, operational and supply requirements of the Navy for the unique high school elective are also taken into account, Mr. Masley said.

"Few units across the country can say they earned four straight Distinguished Unit Awards - but a fifth group of Oxford seniors are now graduating with four straight, and the unit has its eighth straight. It's awesome to have that tradition continue unbroken, and we're very grateful our area manager nominated us for this great honor," said graduating seniors and former Cadet Commanding Officers Becky Gaddis, Siobhan Bennett and Breeyn Green in a joint press statement.

In July, Oxford's cadets enjoyed a special treat by the IDC of Newport, R.I., founders of The Newport Experience. IDC provided a sea cruise around Narragansett Bay to a group of 55 cadets, parents and school administrators.

Joining the group were Mr. Grenier; School Committee member Marc Peterson and his wife, Ruth; and the unit's new Naval Science Instructor, retired Coast Guard Yeoman Senior Chief Wade A. Borland.

Cadets, accompanied by parents, friends and administrators, boarded the tall ship SS Aurora at Pier C in the Goat Island Marina complex in Newport Harbor. Oxford's cadets helped the Aurora's crew raise its distinctive red main and jib sails when the vessel first got underway, and were provided explanations of the ship's deck equipment, sails, rigging and ship history.

The ship quickly gained speed and covered much ground, sailing to the entrance of the bay near Brenton Point on Aquidneck Island and then well past the Newport/Pell bridge on the northerly leg of the trip.

Cadets were also provided the opportunity of manning the helm and steering to maintain a steady course for the wind-driven ship. Aurora's crew demonstrated to the young voyagers how a vessel could trim its massive sails to gain optimum speed regardless of the course required, and pointed out weather and navigational points of interest.

All participating cadets, including the new freshmen, earned the NJROTC Sea Cruise Ribbon.

Also in July, a number of cadets from Bartlett and OHS who are enrolled in the Air Force and Naval Junior ROTC Programs completed a Navy-sponsored Basic Leadership Training Camp in Newport. The cadets joined four other Navy JROTC units for the four-day program designed to develop and improve individual and teamwork skills.

Local cadets attending the camp included Oxford Cadets Siobhan Bennett, Cameron Keefe, Staci MacGregor, Margaret Gaddis, Alexandria Lorange, Joshua Boucher, Nicholas Comstock, John Holmes, Christopher Buffum, Benjamen Domey, Kathleen Coonan, Jessica Rodier and Jason Green; and Bartlett Cadets Chelsea Vancelette, Lauren Denio, Anthony Panczyk, Christopher Moran, Stephen Hessman, Timothy Pelletier, Michael Santos and Steven Houghton.

The cadets underwent formal training ranging from classroom discussions to physical fitness and drill training to actual experiences in a Navy damage control team trainer. They were assigned to one of three platoons, which competed against each other in uniform and room inspections, drill and sports competitions, and other tasks.

Platoon leadership was provided by cadet aides who are alumni of prior leadership camps and the Navy's two-week-long Leadership Academy. Serving as a platoon leader/cadet aide was Oxford senior Cadet and former Company Cmdr. Siobhan Bennett.

Several training events offered special activities. In the Navy's real-world damage control trainer, cadets learned how to use body posture and portions of their uniform to create improvised flotation devices for survival, and learned various Navy shipboard techniques to counter flooding. During a drill that simulated flooding damage through ruptured pipes and cracks in the hull, cadets raced to simultaneously patch pipes, plug holes and create shoring braces to cover the hull cracks and reduce water damage.

The weekend camp ended with an outdoor graduation ceremony on Nimitz Field. At the ceremony, several local cadets earned special recognition for their efforts: Bartlett Cadets Timothy Pelletier and Chelsea Vancelette were recipients of the Most Improved Cadet Medals, chosen by platoon drill instructors and cadet peers. Oxford Cadet Alexandria Lorange received the Most Outstanding Female Physical Fitness Medal for her platoon.

Additionally, Oxford Cadet Cameron Keefe was selected for the honor position of Platoon Guidon Bearer for his overall performance. Oxford Cadet Jason Green and Bartlett Cadet Christopher Moran were chosen for the graduation Color Guard.

All participants were presented a graduation certificate and were authorized to wear the NROTC Basic Leadership Training Ribbon.

During the first two weeks of August, seven Oxford cadets enrolled in the 29th annual Area Four Leadership Academy and Sail Training Program (LA-ST).

The intensive two-week program was held at the Naval Station in Newport, and included 137 other cadets representing 50 high schools from 14 states in the Northeast, as well as Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Italy and Spain. Academy participants were chosen from more than 7,000 cadets enrolled in NJROTC Area Four schools.

Attending from Oxford were first-year cadets Jason A. Green, Jessica M. Rodier and Cameron B. Keefe and second-year cadets John M. Holmes and Alexandria M. Lorange.

They joined 2005 LA-ST grads and seniors Amy L. Fish, who served as a medical aide, and Katelyn E. Hebden, who was a sail training aide during the Academy.

Also participating in the academy was Oxford's new Naval Science Instructor, retired Coast Guard Yeoman Senior Chief Wade A. Borland, who served as a platoon instructor.

The LA-ST experience provides an intense, challenging round-the-clock training regimen designed to polish each teen's leadership, management, interpersonal communication, teamwork and organizational skills through the use of formal classroom training, hands-on field training, daily physical fitness training and team building activities.

Cadets also earned swimming qualifications, ran a land navigation exercise using orienteering skills, and attended formal lectures and practical exercises on social etiquette, dining customs, communications, problem solving, field leadership, drill team maneuvers and use of the ceremonial sword.

On the final evening of the Academy, cadets who satisfactorily completed all requirements, including passing a mandatory physical fitness test to prescribed standards, were awarded the distinguishing Silver Shoulder Cords to be worn for the remainder of their time in the NJROTC program.

At the graduation exercises held Aug. 10, Oxford's cadets received special recognition. Cadet Jessica Rodier was selected for the Honor Position of Guidon Bearer for her Grey Platoon. Cadet Alexandria M. Lorange received the Top Female Physical Fitness Award for Gold Platoon, having earned the highest scores in the actual Physical Fitness Test from the 34 members of her platoon.

Senior Chief Borland's coed Green Platoon of 35 students, affectionately dubbed "The Green Machine" by its membership, won multiple platoon competition awards and earned the Overall Top 2007 Platoon Honors. Cadets Amy L. Fish and Katelyn E. Hebden were awarded NJROTC Cadet Achievement Ribbons in recognition of superior performance as Cadet Aides.

Submitted by Cmdr. Michael C. Masley Jr. Heritage T&G Editor Amy Brenner-Fricke also contributed to this article.


CUTLINE: (1) Newport's largest tall ship, the schooner SS Aurora, provided a sea cruise around Narragansett Bay to Oxford High School Naval Junior ROTC cadets. (2) Bartlett and Oxford Junior ROTC Cadets proudly show graduation certificates and a thumbs-up after graduating from the 2007 Basic Leadership Training Camp. (3) From left, Cadet Breeyn D. Green, the unit's company commander; Oxford High Principal David H. Grenier; and Cadet Katelyn E. Hebden, company executive officer, celebrate the 2007 Distinguished Unit with Honors award. (4) Oxford cadets sport newly earned silver cords after completing the two-week NJROTC Area Four Leadership Academy in Newport, R.I.

Bartlett and Oxford Junior ROTC cadets attending the 2007 Naval Junior ROTC Basic Leadership Training Camp joined peers from several other schools for graduation ceremonies on Nimitz Field at Naval Station Newport. (5) From left: LA-ST graduates and Cadets Kate Hebden, Jason Green, Jessica Rodier, Cameron Keefe, Ali Lorange, John Holmes and Amy Fish prepare to dig into their cake.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 26, 2007
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