Cadet News

Charles B. Aycock HS JROTC Cadet Mari Kelly Castaneda-Gutierrez earns the Golden Falcons JROTC Leadership & Scholastic Excellence Medallion

On the left Cadet Mari Kelly Castaneda-Gutierrez receives her Certificate from Maj (Retired). Anton Alston. On the right Jose Sanchez presented Cadet Castaneda-Gutierrez with her Medallion

On the left Cadet Mari Kelly Castaneda-Gutierrez receives her Certificate from Maj (Retired). Anton Alston. On the right Jose Sanchez presented Cadet Castaneda-Gutierrez with her Medallion
Photo Credit: JROTC Alumnus Christopher Ellis

  • Posted on Nov 14th, 2021
  • Story by: MAJ(R) Anton Alston
  • 4th Brigade
    Academic Excellence

PIKEVILLE, N.C. -- On November 5, 2021, Cadet Mari Kelly Castaneda-Gutierrez was awarded the Golden Falcons JROTC Leadership & Scholastic Excellence Medallion. The Medallion is the highest internal (our school level) award a Cadet can receive at any Leadership Education level at Charles B. Aycock High School.

Each Medallion recipient earns an opportunity to select their presenter for this award. Cadet Castaneda-Gutierrez selected her 2-year-old cousin Jose Sanchez. Jose is a cancer survivor. “The reason I chose my little cousin Jose was because I truly admire him because of how perseverant he is. I have seen him have happy moments and sad moments too, but he never stopped,” said Cadet Castaneda-Gutierrez.

Twenty-four cadets attempted to earn the Leadership & Scholastic Excellence Medallion. JROTC first semester cadet, Castaneda-Gutierrez was the only cadet that passed this rigorous testing process. She was promoted two levels from Private First Class to Sergeant and was designated as the Battalion Personnel and Administrative Officer.

“She did an amazing job and we are so proud of what she has achieved in a short time as a JROTC cadet.” said retired Army Maj. Anton Alston, Charles B. Aycock ‘s Army JROTC Senior Army Instructor.

To earn this Medallion, the Cadets conduct a rigorously graded 10-minute presentation on a Medal of Honor Recipient of their choice, maintain a 3.5 grade point average or higher in all classes and maintain at least a 93% uniform inspection grade.

The cadets must also maintain great discipline in all classes to include no suspensions or negative classroom behavior reported by their teachers to the JROTC Instructors and lastly, they have to pass a rigorous skills test with a score of 93% or higher that includes JROTC knowledge and mathematics.