LAS VEGAS - Twenty Hopi High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets performed for the Native American Grants School Association (NAGSA) Conference at the New Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas Dec 10-12.
The Hopi High School cadets also performed for soldiers at the National Guard Armory in Las Vegas. The cadets performed the Cornboy Dance after posting the colors during the opening ceremony of the NAGSA Conference. They later gave a power-point presentation about their Junior ROTC program in front of about 65 attendees.
Hopi High School instructor Sgt. Joe DeLeon said the cadets performed extremely well as a group. He was also impressed with the way the cadets handled a combination of cultural and military exchange with the soldiers at the armory.
"They were superb. About 35 soldiers witnessed the performance," he said about the cadets dancing the Cornboy for the soldiers.
DeLeon said the soldiers gave the students Challenge Coins, which are presented with a special handshake and considered special. The soldiers gave the cadets a tour of the Armory including the gym and break room.
"It was important to allow the cadets to perform off the reservation for other tribes. I'd say mission accomplished," he said.
DeLeon was thrilled to visit the Armory because the facility manager, Robert Gates, served with him in the Arizona Army National Guard from 2007-2008.
"He opened the building to us. Our students had never seen anything of this caliber. They thought our performance was a special treat so it was a great gathering," he said. "[Gates] said we would be welcomed back at any time to stay there."
Cadet Second Lt. and Public Affairs Officer Betty Dewakuku said the best part of the trip was spending time with the soldiers at the armory.
"It was a good experience to meet face-to-face with the soldiers and perform for them. When they gave us the Challenge Coins, at first I thought it was just a coin, but when I realized that it came from them it was like, 'oh my God,'" she said.
Dewakuku said the experience taught the cadets that there is more to the world than the reservation.
"Our cadets had a good performance," she said.
Cadet Major Shea Setalla said this trip was important because the cadets represented Hopi High School and the Hopi Tribe. She said the best part of the trip was going to the Shark Reef. Her advice to cadets next year is to get good grades because participating in this trip will lead to fun.
Cadet Major Carlinda Perez said her role included watching over her "battle buddies." She said the trip was important because the cadets had a chance to meet the soldiers. She said cadets should keep up their grades so they can have fun on this trip next year. She said the highlight of the trip was dancing at the NAGSA Conference.
DeLeon said the cadet leaders for the trip were Cadet Capt. Dale Lomakema and Cadet Lt. Col. Alex Quiyo. The cadets were selected for the trip based on grades, attitude and participation.
DeLeon noted that the cadets had a chance to visit the Shark Tank at the New Orleans Hotel and later went bowling. The trip cost about $4,000 with $3,000 coming from Hopi High and the rest coming from Junior ROTC's club funds.
DeLeon said the trip would have been improved if the cadets could have visited the M & M Factory, but it was on the Strip where they were not allowed to go.