By Cary Shuman
The Lynn English Junior Reserve Officers Training Program is one of the best school programs in the city, according to Principal Thomas Strangie.
After winning the national championship at the Nationals on May 5 in Florida, Lynn English proudly – and officially – has one of the best JROTC programs in the country.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Strangie. “It’s a great group of kids and they worked really hard. They deserve it. And it’s a great reflection on Sgt. Major [Kenneth] Oswald, who dedicates all this time getting these cadets ready for competitions. The JROTC is one of the best programs in the city.”
Master Sgt. Gerald Goncalo, coach of the English JROTC armed drill team, said that 36 students traveled to the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach for the nationals. Thirty-two teams, representing 19 states, competed for the crown.
“We prepared for one year for Nationals,” said Goncalo. “We practice almost every day of the school year and often on weekends. This is a program that focuses on dedication and teamwork and commitment. It feels fantastic to win the national championship – I mean what else can you say?”
Cadet Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Pho, a junior and a JROTC captain, also took home three individual awards, including the coveted Commander’s Cup for being the best drill commander.
“It was an incredible day for Jeffrey,” said Goncalo.
Pho is in his third year with the JROTC program.
“I’m so proud to be a national champion and to receive the Commander’s Cup,” said Pho, who hopes to apply to Norwich University. “This has been one of the highlights of my career at English. Sgt. Major Oswald has been a tremendous life mentor to me.”
Also winning national awards were Kaela Pangilinan, Diana Lopez, and the unarmed inspection drill team led by Cadet Colonel Marlene Rivera.
Pangilinan, a senior, is in her fourth year in the JROTC program.
“I feel great about our success at Nationals and it ends my four-year experience with a memorable accomplishment,” said Pangilinan, who will attend Salem State in the fall. “I want to thank Sgt. Major Oswald, who I’m definitely going to miss. He’s like a second father to me. And Sgt. Major Concalo – I can’t say enough about what they have meant to us and I wish the cadets continued success in JROTC.”
JROTC cadet Luke Boisselle, a member of the New England champion Lynn Babe Ruth 15-year-old All-Star team that played in the World Series last summer, said the excitement was comparable at both national events.
“The Nationals had the same atmosphere as the World Series,” said Boisselle, a junior. “There was a lot of intensity and our team had a lot of chemistry like it had in baseball. The Nationals brought back a lot of great memories of the Babe Ruth World Series in North Dakota. I thank Sgt. Major Oswald for allowing me to be on the JROTC team that went to Florida.”
Sgt. Major Kenneth Oswald is in his 22nd year as the leader of English’s highly successful JROTC leadership and mentorship program that has 170 students. JROTC helps its participants become better citizens in the school and the community.
“It was amazing to see our students accomplish what they did on the floor,” said Oswald. “Three weeks before Nationals, some of the girls had the opportunity at the Marine Corps Nationals in Irving, Texas, to march and do their exhibition routine at AT&T Stadium, which is the home of the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve had an unbelievable experience the past three weeks.”
Oswald thanked the Lynn community for its support of JROTC at English.
“We couldn’t have gone to Florida without the support from everybody in the city of Lynn. Everyone was enormous giving us support so we could get down there. The trophies are not only for the cadets but for Lynn English High School and the city of Lynn.”