Surprise reunion helps highlight JROTC Award Ceremony


The annual Rome Free Academy JROTC Award Ceremony Thursday night included an unexpected guest for one of the graduating cadets.

Cadet William Almas was surprised to see his big brother, Army Sgt. Vince DiGioia, come out on stage to greet him after cadets saw a video message from DiGioia, the Rome school district said.

“We have been planning this for a year. They haven’t seen each other in four years,” JROTC instructor Della Pray, Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (retired), said of DiGioia wanting to be at the ceremony to surprise his little brother.

Almas gave his brother “the biggest hug,” and they were joined by their mom Ursula Rivera, the district noted.

After graduation from RFA in June, said the district, the following cadets will enter the service, attend college or join the workforce:

Almas, Liam Behric, Ian Butler, Jarred Delacruz, Shaik Ruqiyah,

Michael Jones Jr, Joshua Kippen, Jeffrey Turner, Devin Lemieux, Scott Petroski, Jarod Pilgreen, Rachel Reese,

Kyleigh Satterlee, Damian Seavey, Lauren Sepeda, McKenzie Tikalksky, Tyler Waldron, StarAsia White, and Gage

Guest speaker at the event was Technical Sergeant Gary Julian of the New York Air National Guard. Cadet awards were then presented.

JROTC instructors include Pray and Kevin P. Tracy, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. AIr Force (Retired) who is senior aerospace science Instructor, the Rome City School District announcement added.

Objectives of AFJROTC are to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship; promote community service; instill responsibility, discipline, respect, and character; and provide instruction in air and space fundamentals, said the district.


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