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Junior ROTC to hold first military ball

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program in West Fargo is not even two years old, but it's old enough for members to hold their first Military Ball this spring.

The Ball, patterned after a formal event known in the U.S. Army as Dining-In, will be March 31, in the Lodoen Center for members of the JROTC and their guests, with social hour and pictures at 5:30, dinner at 6:45, and a dance at 7:30 p.m.

All male and female cadets must wear their class A uniform. Female JROTC cadets must wear a prom-type dress. Non-JROTC guests of female JROTC cadets are expected to wear a coat and tie. The event will include the presentation of the Colors, dinner, crowning of the Sweetheart and Cavalier of the Ball and then a dance.

JROTC cadets, there have been 96 this year, planned the night. The theme, "You Can't See Me," means balloons, streamers, dog tags and plates will be a camouflaged mix of black, green and brown. The meal will consist of club sandwiches, croissants, meatballs and punch.

Senior Battalion Commander Melinda Wendel is the highest-ranking cadet. It's her responsibility to ensure preparations for the gala "are running smoothly." A member of the North Dakota National Guard, she spends three hours every morning doing JROTC work in the Lodoen Center, where two instructors teach students through the day.

Both instructors are retired Army personnel and North Dakota natives. Major Chris Sjue and Command Sergeant Major Joel Komrosky have more than 40 years of combined active duty experience and more than 30 years JROTC teaching experience.

Sjue said his experience with military balls has been that students enjoy them even more than they do the prom, and this at a fraction of the cost.

"We encourage them not to make it an expensive event," he said.

Komrosky said he feels outstanding about the growth he has seen through the year in the cadets.

"We're preparing them to hold leadership in the civilian world." Komrosky grinned. "We see them develop every day."

The stated purpose of the JROTC Department is "to motivate young people to be better citizens." The objective is to achieve three primary goals: physical excellence through physical training and the Cadet Challenge; enhance academic skills by classroom activities such as citizenship, communication, military history, geography, personal growth exercises and life saving techniques; and to teach leadership skills by following, leading, participating in a team and by instructing other cadets.

The West Fargo High School JROTC is located in the Lodoen Community Center at 109 3rd St. E. this year but is scheduled to be in the high school next year.