PHOTO: Seniors throw their military covers in the air in celebration of their last formation and last day in NJROTC uniforms.

SANDY HOOK – Cadet Lt. Jillian Kasun of Middletown was honorarily promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander at the annual Battalion Pass in Review at MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology Friday.


CDR T.M. Smith-Yeoman, USN (ret), Senior Naval Science Instructor at the high school, made the announcement and presented the award, citing the high school senior’s “superior performance above and beyond the call of duty.” Kasun is also one of nine seniors who received plaques in recognition of their outstanding performance as the unit battalion staff for the past school year. Smith-Yeoman said the awards were given to the battalion leaders that the NJROTC program for exemplifying the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment which resulted in a highly successful year for the MAST NJROTC program, and its designation, for the 31st consecutive year, as a Distinguished Unit with Academic Honors by the US Navy's Commander, Naval Service Training Command.

Kasun, the daughter of Ross and Kate Kasun, attended Village Elementary School and Thompson Middle School, Middletown, and plans to enter Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York on a four-year NROTC scholarship in September. Cadet Lt. Kasun was one of four high school seniors in the New York/New Jersey area picked to receive an on-the-spot scholarship, worth over $180,000, and will serve in the United States Navy upon her college graduation.

Kasun’s awards were among the many honors bestowed on the MAST graduating class at the annual Pass in Review before faculty, parents and other guests of the MAST graduating class, all of whom, like every student at MAST, is a member of the Navy JROTC program.

Timothy McCorkell, Superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District which operates the school, and Earl Moore, principal of MAST, both addressed the battalion and praised them for the excellence of their academic and community service throughout their four years at the high school.

PHOTO:  MAST NJROTC Battalion staff for the 2017-2018 school year include (from left) Cadets Austin Colbert, Mallory Solazzo, Seth Britton, Hilary Burns, Grace Murphy, and Battalion Commander Elizabeth Colyer.  Photos by Wendy Green, MAST Technology Teacher.

The Battalion conducted its Pass in Review honoring retiring MAST mathematics teacher Eugene Stoye of Howell, who is retiring at the end of the school year after 16 years at MAST.

Cadet Lt. Liam Kile, Deputy Battalion Commander, served as Master of Ceremonies for the awards program. He and Kasun were joined by Cadets Cdr. Michael Zimmerman, Lt. Cdr. Joseph Casamassima, Master Chief Petty Officer Noah Weiss, and Lts. Katherine Scott, Danielle Kaden, Sydney Battaglia, and Ryan Elmiger in receiving plaques of recognition for their outstanding performance as the unit battalion staff.

Kitty Bowers, State Historian for the NJ Daughters of the American Revolution, presented the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution bronze ROTC medal in recognition of outstanding leadership qualities, military bearing and excellence to Cadets Megan Scafaria, Karolina Kolodziej, Dominique Lengyel and Francesca Lavelle. In presenting the awards, Ms Bowers cited the students the same “ high ideals and principles that motivated and sustained our patriotic ancestors.”

Edward Glidden, Chapter President of the Monmouth Chapter, NJ Society of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, presented the National Society’s ROTC medal in recognition of outstanding leadership qualities, military bearing and excellence to Cadets Liam Hoagland, Thomas Welch, Michael Almonte and Elizabeth Colyer.

The Military Officers Association of America awards, presented through its affiliate the NJ Lakes and Pines Chapter, presented the JROTC Medal to Cadet Joseph Chiusano for leadership; the Military Order of the Purple Heart Award which focuses on fostering patriotism and good citizenship among America’s youth presented leadership in ROTC programs was awarded to Cadet Stephen Fisher; the Military Order of the World Wars presented the JROTC Award of Merit to Cadet Kali Kennedy for improvement in military proficiency, academic studies and community actions, an award that cites her potential for military leadership.

American Legion Post and Auxiliary 346 of Neptune presented leadership awards to Cadets Joseph Schilke, Seth Britton, Emily Fuller and Cassondra Runko.

The Surface Navy Association Stephen Decatur Award for demonstrating the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment was presented to Cadets Grace Murphy and Cameron Kline.

Cdr. Smith-Yeoman presented the red aiguillette, signifying cadets have been active drill team members for two years and competed in numerous competitions and Color Guard events to Cadets Michael Almonte, Alyssa Austin, Zachary Basile, Nicholas Cataneo, Ryan Cronin, Jilliam Davis, Elizabeth Dwyer, Rhea Granfield, Jonathan Guiffre, Jack Kelly, Cameron Kline, Francesca Lavelle, James O’Donnell, Stefan Olaguera, Kyle Pak, William Perry, Riley Plosica and Christian Schwarz.

The green aiguillette, signifying performance for two years in the high school NJROTC band or chorus was presented by the senior instructor to cadets Kieran Bates, Matthew Spak, Astrid D’Andrea, Shaena Harasty, Dave Scott, Jordan Wilson, Emma Scales and Bridget Farrow.

Cadets who earned medals for their first place finishes in various courses at the Quail Hill orienteering meet in April were Cadets Tyler Barkey, Ryan McBride, Nick Noe, Daniel Lewis, Christian Schwarz, Jack McCrae, Susie Ferrier, Hayley Flanagan and Joseph Schilke.

Academic Achievement awards were presented by Moore and Junior Class Advisor Jessica Cappadona to cadets Andy Segovia, Megan Scafaria, Miriam Badre, Sarah Fitzgerald, Kees Van Hemmen, Michael Almonte, Melanie Vasquez, Caroline Davidson and Ryan McLoughlin.

PHOTO: Outgoing Battalion staff for the 2016-2017 school year (from left): Cadets Ryan Elmiger, Noah Weiss, Joseph Casamassima, Mick Zimmerman, Jillian Kasun, Jack Kile, Danielle Kaden, Katie Scott, and Sydney Battaglia

Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, noted “Although I was unable to attend the Pass In Review this year, it certainly recognized the outstanding contributions these young men and women have already made through their generous contributions to community service, their dedication to their nation and the importance they put on both academic and leadership achievements. Their passionate dedication to excellence has been acknowledged in so many areas, not the least of which is the number of ROTC scholarships and military academy appointments the senior class has achieved, as have many classes that preceded them. I have no doubt that under the excellent guidance of the military leadership and faculty of MAST, the accomplishments of the upcoming classes will be every bit as prolific and rewarding,. Parents of every student at MAST should be proud of the achievements and efforts their children in every grade have already exhibited and achieved.”