Feds surprise Oregon City High School with conference honors
Oregon City High School students became a source of national pride for their hometown when they performed a public service at a recent federal conference.
OCHS's U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program was asked by the U.S. Department of Energy's national office to provide a colorguard for the presentation of colors for what turned out to be the national cybersecurity conference, which was held this month at the Hilton in downtown Portland.
"My cadets were just proud as can be to have had the opportunity to be there and represent our program, OCHS and the community of Oregon City as a whole at — what we discovered when we got there was — a major national U.S. government event," said retired Sgt. 1st Class Rob Aguilar, JROTC assistant instructor.
OCHS's JROTC was featured as part of a livestreamed video across the country, and in-person attendance of 1,400 attendees at this event included regional media and a White House representative.
OCHS students and staff had "no idea" that they were being asked to attend such a significant conference, Aguilar said.
"We thought it was just some local or regional conference, not the U.S. DOE's national cybersecurity conference," Aguilar said.
OCHS got its first hint of the significance of the event when they got to the hotel where there were federal security officers roaming around checking IDs and keeping watch on doors to the building.
Oregon City's next surprise came when the conference's emcee began the entire event by announcing, "Please stand for the presentation of colors by the Oregon City High School Army Junior ROTC group, and the singing of the National Anthem."
To thank the students for their service, the chief information officer of the U.S. Department of Energy gave commemorative coins to five troopers in OCHS's colorguard. JROTC programs are fairly rare in Oregon by national standards, with only eight JROTC programs in the state compared to Florida's over 300 programs.
"Our cadets have a heart for service and have carried on a 24-year legacy of faithful service to the school, the community of Oregon City and the Portland metropolitan area as a whole," Aguilar said.
About 90 cadets in OCHS's program included 14 graduating seniors who received almost $900,000 in scholarships this year, including a West Point appointee for the third year in a row. Oregon City's Advanced Drill Team, the Regulators, took three straight first-place awards and qualified for the regionals for the first time in years.
OCHS's appearance at a national conference provided a capstone to what Aguilar said was an "excellent recovery year" for its JROTC program, having conducted over 40 different service projects (over 1,100 service hours) this school year alone.
In addition to the national conference, OCHS's JROTC this year participated in the OCHS Homecoming Parade, Oregon City's Teddy Bear Parade, the Lebanon Strawberry Festival Parade (for the first time), the Rose Festival parade, the Mountain View Cemetery Memorial Day project that placed over 450 flags on tombs of fallen veterans, the Wreaths Across America colorguard event for Veterans Day at Riverview Cemetery and the Portland Zoo Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day colorguard presentation.
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