ORLANDO, FL -- The East River High School Army JROTC September 11th Commemoration Ceremony was executed on a beautiful Friday morning with a rainbow in the sky. This event was LiveStreamed to all classrooms at East River so that they were able to take time and honor those we lost. At exactly 0846 hrs, which is the time the first plane struck the North Tower, “Taps” was played.
This was the very FIRST large-scale ceremony conducted in Central Florida since March. Although other tribute events in Central Florida were conducted, they were either virtual or small capacity. Safety measures were given and met from Orange County and CDC. The county approval for our ceremony was granted just 72 hours prior to execution on Tuesday morning Sep 8th.
Thus demanding qualifications and tasks were put in front of our JROTC Falcon Battalion Cadets! They planned, rehearsed, and executed wonderfully in order to honor this tragedy.
“I believe the biggest challenge planning the ceremony was to plan a large-scale event all while trying to follow social distancing guidelines for COVID-19. We also had to change locations to ensure there was social distancing for both Cadets and parents. We moved to the football field, had all Cadets and parents wear masks, conducted temperature checks and maintained social distancing.” said Battalion Commander LTC Alyssa Ramdeen.
“Our Principal was concerned with maintaining social distancing and ensuring we followed all COVID-19 regulations. During the briefing with our Principal and Assistant Principal, they wanted to ensure that we maintained the proper reputation for our school, our community, and Falcon Battalion. Being approved, we would be the first large-scale event for the entire community. We had to ensure we had a plan to follow ALL social distancing guidelines so as not to reflect badly on our community.” said LTC Ramdeen.
The question of “How valuable were rehearsals to the success of the ceremony?” was asked to the Falcon Battalion CSM. “Rehearsals were essential to the success of the 9/11 ceremony. They prepped Cadets so execution was perfect and correctly honored the victims of the tragic event. Practice truly pays off when you work hard.”said Battalion CSM Kiley-Grace Gonzalez.
Social Distancing was maximized for this Ceremony. The Battalion was unable to maintain normal intervals. A 6 foot distance was set between each Cadet while they marched in single file to form the “Twin Towers”. Parents were able to attend if they signed up, and we limited the capacity. One of the biggest obstacles faced was social distancing for the Color Guard. Instead of maintaining a close interval they maintained a challenging Normal interval separation while marching even when executing the command of “Colors Reverse March”---not an easy accomplishment.
The question of “What adjustments did the Color Guard make due to COVID-19 restrictions?” was asked to the Color Guard Commander “To properly execute the normal interval that was maintained throughout this ceremony the CG had to conduct many practices on the field and be sure to adjust to all changes necessary so that we could present the colors properly while still maintaining distance.” —said 1SG Acevedo. Additionally, the entire Battalion was spread wide across 30 yards! With this being said, the majority of commands given were from the Battalion CSM . The question “How did you prepare your command voice to be heard across such a great expanse?” was asked to our CSM. “To prepare to call commands over the width of the football field, I not only practiced over 20 times, but I received tips and advice from my SAI on how to properly project and enunciate. Specifically, if I did not hear an echo, I was not loud enough.” —said CSM Gonzalez.
Lastly, East River’s Principal Nikki Campbell oversaw the entire ceremony. This included many school resources such as the Trumpeter who played an emotional Taps at 0846hrs across a quiet football stadium. Also contributing were a Snare Drummer, school news, yearbook, photography, as well as the Drone Camera and our LiveStream to all classrooms.
This ceremony will mark the Falcon Battalion’s 8th year that we have conducted this tribute. Concluding this emotional anniversary, the day was completed by the retiring of the colors from Half-Staff.
East River High School JROTC:
- SAI: MAJ (R) Steven Celeste
- AI: MSG (R) Angela Spry
- AI: SFC (R) Gerrick Smith
- AI: SFC (R) Mark Kalapp
- Battalion Commander: Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Alyssa Ramdeen
- Battalion Executive Officer: Cadet Major Adrianna Figueroa
- Battalion Promotions Officer: Cadet Major Isabella Pohl
- Battalion Command Sergeant Major: Cadet Command Sergeant Major Kiley-Grace Gonzalez
Video: Recorded & Produced by Falcon TV Director Anthony Cangemillo Drone Operator James Jones.
Photo Credits: Photography by Social Media Liaison Amanda Jones, Yearbook Director William Mayes and Photography Director Michael Schmidt