Commencement activities began the morning of May 22 on Colonels Field with the Company Competitive Drill contest. First up was Echo, followed by Delta, Charlie, Bravo and Band companies — each group completed a prescribed set of maneuvers on the drill field and were judged by JROTC and Commandant’s Office staffers.
Echo Company was declared the winner of the competition. Cadets received a trophy and ribbon for their company flag, after which parents mobbed the field to congratulate their sons and pose for photographs.
Following the conclusion of the drill competition, seven members of the Fusiliers (Octavio Gomez ’15, Francisco Fletes ’18, Jose Nachon ’16, Lucas Moore ’18, Oreste Giorgi ’17, Eduardo Gonzalez ’16 and Alberto Avila ’18) took the field to perform individual and group routines.
Sixth, seventh and eighth graders and their teachers celebrated their accomplishments at the middle school final assembly May 22 in the Memorial Chapel.
The ceremony began with a processional, the Pledge of Allegiance and remarks by Director of the Middle School MAJ Edsel Baker, followed by award presentations. Award presenters were Baker, LTC Greg Seibert, CPT John Noel, LTC Willis Kleinsorge and MAJ Paul Petit ’86 of Mission, Texas.
Hal Heyman Plaque: Sky Thunderchild ’19
Derrill S. Kuhlman Award (math/science): Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21
Rotary Service Above Self Award: Sky Thunderchild ’19
Petit Plaque for International Relations: Dongyang Chen ’20 & Martin Farias ’20
Best Squad Leader Award: Zaide Johnson ’19
G. David Bailey Discipline Trophy (fewest disciplinary reports): Santiago Sanchez ’21
Piper Barracks Award (fewest checks): Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21 and Jordan Hornick ’20
George Piper Outstanding MS Athlete Award: Christian Cosner ’19
Harris Plaque (soldierly qualities): Elijah Flores ’19
Richard White Improvement Plaque: Jacob Ornstein ’19
Petit Fellowship Plaque: Victor Pablos ’19
Faculty Plaque for Leadership, Cooperation & Loyalty: Eugenio Valdes ’19
Rotary Leaders of Tomorrow Award & $100 stipend: Zaide Johnson ’19 and Rodrigo Santos ’19
Syl Mansfield Memorial Award (ESL) & $100 stipend: Juan Pablo Medrano ’21
Delta Phi academic honor society members: Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, Juan Pablo Medrano ’21; Santiago Sanchez ’21; Eugenio Valdes ’19.
The following cadets maintained a 3.7 GPA for at least one month, receiving Academic Fourragere.
March: Chandler Bolinger ’19, Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, Juan Pablo Medrano ’21, Santiago Sanchez ’21, Eugenio Valdes ’19.
April: Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, Elijah Flores ’19, Luke Greenman ’20, Joseph Herrington ’20, Juan Pablo Medrano ’21, Santiago Sanchez ’21.
May: Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, George Englehardt ’21, Joseph Herrington ’20, Juan Pablo Medrano ’21, Santiago Sanchez ’21, Eugenio Valdes ’19.
The following 20 students were recognized for maintaining A and B grades for at least one month — almost 56 percent of middle school students were recognized. As of May 22, 50 percent of middle schoolers had a year-to-date GPA of at least 3.0.
Seventh graders: Eric Asbjornson (1); Dongyang Chen (5); Luke Greenman (6); Joseph Herrington (2); Jordan Hornick (7); Michael Naughton (6); Diego Ochoa (1); Nehemiah Simmons (4).
Eighth graders: Chandler Bolinger (7); Christian Cosner (1); Elijah Flores (7); Zaide Johnson (2); Santiago Ramirez (6); Rodrigo Santos (5); Eugenio Valdes (7).
For having maintained a GPA of at least 3.7 for at least three consecutive months, the following students received the Scholarship Medal for Academics.
First Semester: Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, Santiago Ramirez ’19, Eugenio Valdes ’19.
Second Semester: Rogelio Coria Lopez ’21, Juan Pablo Medrano ’21, Santiago Sanchez ’21.
The assembly ended with the promotion of the 17 eighth grade students to the ninth grade. Cadets and their families were invited to attend a reception in the assembly hall after the ceremony concluded.
HIGH SCHOOL FINAL ASSEMBLY
The high school final assembly celebrating academic, musical, military and athletic achievements was held May 22 in the Centennial Gymtorium. Accompanied by the MMA Concert Band, the Corps of Cadets marched into place and recited the National Anthem.
Academy President Charles McGeorge kicked off the assembly by recognizing faculty and staff members for their contributions to the school.
“These people work for your sons and for the school selflessly and they devote a great deal of time, energy and effort into each one of these young men,” McGeorge said. “[They] really are the reason why these young men are so successful and accomplish so much.”
The following faculty and staff members were recognized for their service to the Academy:
Irene Hard, Laundry Technician, 15 years
Charles Stockdall, Maintenance Technician, 15 years
Dan Burton, Maintenance Technician, 10 years
Jason Jones, Maintenance Technician, 10 years
Cassandra Brooks, Annual Fund Manager, 5 years
Amy Groves, Director of Human Resources and Financial Aid, 5 years
David Higgins, Barracks Mentor, 5 years
CPT John Noel, Athletic Director, 5 years
Gary Stewart, Admissions Counselor, 5 years
Richard VanDuyne, Maintenance Technician, 5 years
Academy librarian CPT Katherine Larison received the Bravo Zulu award, while IT staffer Mike Kulas received the Presidential Gold Star Award.
“Larison is being recognized with a Bravo Zulu Award for her wonderful performance with regard to community service,” McGeorge said. In 2014, the Corps of Cadets amassed 5,888 hours of community service. This year, they totaled 7,457 hours. “Under CPT Larison’s guidance we met and exceeded our community service goal.”
Each cadet is required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service in order to graduate to the next grade at MMA.
“We believe very strongly that it is their obligation not only to be a good family member and to give to their family, but to give to their community as well,” McGeorge said, “to be baseball coaches and football coaches and work in their church or at their hospital.”
Director of College Placement MAJ Kevin Farley and Academic Dean Dr. Frank Giuseffi were also recognized “for their splendid performance with regard to college placement and scholarship performance.” Of the 68 graduating seniors, 71 percent were admitted to highly selective colleges.
Kulas received the Presidential Gold Star Award “in recognition of his personal courage and disregard for self in acting to protect our cadets from possible personal harm.”
“Kulas’ actions on our cadets’ behalf has upheld the highest traditions of the MMA faculty,” McGeorge remarked.
Academic Dean Dr. Frank Giuseffi next took the stage to present the following annual academic awards.
David Whitney 1954 Plaque: John Curley ’16
MAJ William Bryan Medal: Simon Barrera ’15
SEN John C. Danforth Plaque: Jose Garcia ’15
William F. Enright, Jr 1937 Memorial Award: Kane Anderson ’15
SEN Thomas F. Eagleton Plaque for Excellence in Senior English: Octavio Gomez ’15
SEN Thomas F. Eagleton Plaque for Excellence in Junior English: Oscar Cortada ’16
Eugene Lamm Memorial Award (ESL): Rongyang Yi ’18
American Legion Award for Scholastic Excellence, Underclassman: Maverick Jones ’16
Sylvia Mansfield Memorial Award & stipend (ESL): Jesus Villalobos ’16 and Maximiliano Perez ’15
Daniel Amezcua: ESL II
Gerardo Amezcua: ESL II
Kane Anderson: US Government
Mohammad Babak: AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, English II Honors, US History
Purevsuren Bayanbaatar: Written Language
John Curley: Biology II, Entrepreneurship
Jose De La Vega: Biology I
Zikun Deng: AP Physics I
Charles Eckardt: Biology II Honors, Chinese II
Jose Garcia: US Government
Octavio Gomez: World History
Nishan Khanal: AP Calculus BC, AP Physics C-Mechanics, Biochemistry, C++ Programming, Visual Basic
MinJun Kim: Geometry
Alexandre McDonald: College Algebra
Kyle Mertens: Algebra II, Biochemistry
Cole Mueller: Economics Honors, English IV, Humanities
Ajay Nemali: Economics
Alex Otti: AP Chemistry
Maximiliano Perez: ESL Science
Gregory Prinster: English II Honors, Geometry
Pablo Rodriguez: ESL II
Jean-Luc Shyaka: Biology I Honors
Damdinbazar Sumiyabazar: US History
Turbold Tumurkhuu: Chinese IV
Gabriel Vallejo: Biology I, Chinese I
Hector Villanueva: English II
Jorge Zamorano: ESL III
Yuchen Zhang: ESL Science
First-year bandmaster WO2 Freddie Lomas next presented the band awards, followed by a performance of Homeward Bound by the MMA Cadet Chorus.
LTC E.R. Jackson Music Award: Gavin Hendee ’15
Streep Brothers Band Award (Senior): Miles O’Keefe ’15
Streep Brothers Band Award (Junior): Robert Moore ’16
Streep Brothers Band Award (Sophomore): Photsavat Pongsuea ’17
COL Paul F. Cherches Memorial Award: Tony Reed Vaughan ’15
Senior Army Instructor CPT Carl Estenik and Army Instructor SFC John Biddle next presented military awards, along with guest presenters including: past president of the Military Officers Association Missouri chapter LTC John Jones, US Army ret.; LTC Denny Pendergrass, US Army ret.; LTCMDR David Christian, US Navy ret.; Alan Heidbreder; SSGT Joshua Greer; and SGT Carol Thompson.
MSGT Billy Crawford Memorial Award: Rodrigo Elizondo ’15
Military Policeman Of The Year: Rodrigo Vilches ’15 (second consecutive year)
Daedalian JROTC Medal: Vincent Burke ’15
Fusilier Of The Year: Francisco Fletes ’18
Best First-Year Fusilier: Alberto Avila ’18
Veteran of Foreign Wars JROTC Award: Nolan Borgsmiller ’15
US Daughters of 1812 Award: Kotaro Kasamatsu ’15
Sons of the American Revolution Medal: Victor Gomez ’15
Military Order of the Purple Heart National Leadership Medal: Enkhbilegt Luvsandorj ’16
Raider of the Year: Juan Cepeda ’18
Special Forces Association Medal for an Outstanding Raider: Oscar Cortada ’16
US Army Recruiting Command Award (academics): Connor Cunningham ’16
US Recruiting Command Award (athletics): Cole Mueller ’15
National Sojourners Award: Rodrigo Padilla ’15
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War JROTC Award: Jonathan Richardson ’15
American Veterans Medal for Military Excellence: Victor Marroquin ’15
American Veterans Medal for Leadership: David Lazcano ’16
Military Order of the World Wars Award: Ariyandev Sandui ’15
Military Officers Association of America Medal: Adam Schmitz ’15
The following sports awards were presented by Athletic Director CPT John Noel.
Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award:
D’Cherion Nelson ’15
Joe D. Bailey Award for Most Dedicated
Varsity Athlete: Hugh Harris ’15
Commandant of Cadets LTC Gregory Seibert took the stage to present the following discipline and leadership awards.
Class of 1968 Freshman Leadership Award: Daniel Amezcua ’18
Richard Hall Memorial Award: Logan Byrd ’17
Mentor of the Year: LT Katie South
Meritas Plaque for Excellence in Discipline: Claudio Arias ’15; Naranmandakh Ayulgui ’16; Thomas Dean ’16; Oreste Giorgi ’17; Eduardo Gonzalez ’16; Xiao Liang ’15; Paul Murphy ’20; Gregory Prinster ’17; Diego Quintanilla ’16; Santiago Sanchez ’21.
Following a performance of Best Day of My Life by the MMA Concert Band, Academy President Charles McGeorge took the stage to present the final awards.
AMCSUS Medal: Roger Gonzalez ’15
LT Gov. Joe Maxwell Community Service Award: John Curley ’16
Steve Walker Memorial Award for an Outstanding First-Year Cadet: John Curley ’16
Jack Meyers Class of 1939 Memorial Cup for Most Creative Cadet: Victor Gomez ’15
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award silver medalists: Haoming “Remington” Zhang ’15; Dustin McGuire ’15; Alfonso Leon ’16; Jose Estrada ’16.
The Class of 2015 and their family members gathered in the Memorial Chapel on the evening of May 22 for the Baccalaureate ceremony, a traditional religious event held prior to Commencement.
Chaplain MAJ Edsel Baker led the benediction and delivered the baccalaureate address, playing the song Glory Days faintly in the background as he spoke. Baker compared his experience as a sophomore during the 50th anniversary of his high school to the senior class’ experience as juniors during MMA’s 125th anniversary celebration.
“They were the golden class of Lafayette High School,” he said. This special group could do no wrong, while other classes felt unimportant in comparison.
“I thought, I’m not buying it,” Baker said. “These aren’t my glory days. I don’t want high school to be my glory days. … I wanted my high school to prepare me for my glory days.”
The “glory days” occur in your careers, at your wedding, as your children are born and grow up, Baker said. The duty of a high school is to give young men and women the tools necessary to change the world with their accomplishments.
“What have we done in this space to prepare you for what comes next?” Baker said, indicating the Chapel in which he spoke. “There is a part of you that’s spiritual. It’s that part that connects with the universe writ large and helps you through your daily life.”
“That spiritual part of you needs things, and hopefully we have equipped you with the things that it needs,” he concluded. “You need a place to be centered and to come back to. And so each Sunday night we gather here to hopefully center you.”
Baker closed the service with a benediction. Hymns throughout the ceremony included For The Beauty of the Earth and Holy, Holy, Holy. Prayers were led by Academic Dean Dr. Frank Giuseffi, and the Cadet Chorus performed Let All The People Say Amen accompanied by MAJ Mike Shoemaker on the drums.
Immediately following the conclusion of the ceremony, seniors and their families walked from the Chapel to the Centennial Gymtorium for the Senior Banquet.
The senior banquet began with the induction of the Class of 2015 into the MMA Alumni Association. As each senior student’s name was called, his senior portrait and college choice was projected behind him. Each senior crossed the stage, strode under an arch of sabers (held by Kane Anderson’15 and D’Cherion Nelson ’15) and paused for photos at the end of the stage. As every graduate descended the steps, Alumni Association Board President-Elect Jeff Kays ’84 and LTC Paul Gillette ’70 shook hands with him and presented him with an engraved drinking glass.
Up next were toasts to the Academy, the Corps of Cadets and the Class of 2015 led by senior class president Jose Garcia ’15 and Academy President Charles McGeorge. After a short invocation by class cadet council representative Cole Mueller ’15, dinner was served.
Following a buffet dinner of fish and steak, guests viewed the senior video created by the MMA Marketing Department and heard the traditional Class Chronicle, this year delivered by seven-year cadet Tony Reed Vaughan ’15. Vaughan was awarded the Richard Cooper ’82 Plaque for the Longest Tenure by Kays, who delivered his remarks after a bittersweet rendition of See You Again by senior chorus members Zikun Deng and Kotaro Kasamatsu.
According to Kays, a nine-year cadet who served as Battalion Adjutant his senior year, not becoming involved sooner in the MMA Alumni Association was a big mistake.
“Don’t wait for Homecoming. Organize get-togethers with alumni wherever you may be at any time of the year,” he advised the Class of 2015. “You have earned your right to wear the ring. You have earned your right to come back here year after year and stand with the thousands who came before you.”
After Kays’ speech, he joined Gillette and Academy President Charles McGeorge in presenting several senior awards.
Alumni Plaque for the Senior Voted Most Likely to Succeed: Kane Anderson ’15
American Legion Military Excellence Medal: Maxwell Broughton ’15
American Legion Scholastic Excellence Medal: Edmond Biruta ’15
MMA JROTC Distinguished Service Award: Adam Schmitz ’15
William S. Lowe Award: Nolan Borgsmiller ’15
COL Veon McConnell Korean Trophy: Guangning Wei ’15
Plaque for Outstanding MMA Athlete: Hugh Harris ’15
Class of 1984 Unhearalded Leader Award: Edmond Biruta ’15
Dr. Gregory “Doc” McDonald Award: Simon Barrera ’15
COL Jerome G. Harris Cup for Soldierly Qualities: Dustin McGuire ’15
Jose Garcia ’15 then presented a $2,100 check to McGeorge on behalf of the Class of 2015. The funds, earned through service projects and gifts, will purchase the Academy’s first Academic Mace, which will be used during all academic ceremonies and is symbolic of the school’s authority to confer diplomas.
“That mace will live forever and lead every academic parade [and] every graduation from this point forward,” McGeorge said. “Thank you.”
The ceremony concluded with the singing of Old MMA led by Kasamatsu and a benediction led by Simon Barrera ’15. As cadets and their families exited the gym, they received copies of the local paper The Mexico Ledger featuring formal portraits and the college plans of each graduating senior.
SENIOR REVIEW & GRADUATION CEREMONY
Senior students gathered on the parade field for the final time on the morning of May 23. During this special Battalion Review, Battalion Commander for the 2014-15 school year D’Cherion Nelson ’15 presented incoming BC cadet Mohammad Babak ’16 of Logar, Afghanistan, with the Davison Saber. As the ceremony ended, seniors marched toward the Centennial Gymtorium, their families following suit.
The 2015 Commencement ceremony began as faculty members and seniors performed their traditional march into the Centennial Gymtorium to the tune of Marche Militaire. After the posting of the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance, Academy President Charles McGeorge took the stage to welcome attendees.
The President challenged cadets to keep community service, morality and virtue in mind as they enter the next chapter of their lives.
“We have two resumes. We have our professional resume, and then we have our personal resume,” McGeorge said. “What is it that you give back to society? How have you contributed and made your family and your community a better place?”
Chairman of the Board R. Stribling Koster net took the stage to highlight the Academy’s progress during the 2014-15 school year.
“We thank you for your support. Thank you for bringing your sons here,” Koster said. “We thank you for everything you have done to help MMA succeed for not just the last 125 years but hopefully and surely the next 125 as well.”
Middle School Principal MAJ Edsel Baker and Academic Dean Dr. Frank Giuseffi presented the following academic awards.
Stribling Cup for Highest Efficiency in the Middle School: Chandler Bolinger ’19
SEN Christopher S. Bond Award for Outstanding Middle School Underclassman: Rogelio Coria ’21
Plaque for Highest Scholarship in the Freshman Class: Gabriel Vallejo ’18
Plaque for Highest Scholarship in the Sophomore Class: Gregory Prinster ’17
Plaque for Highest Scholarship in the Junior Class: Nishan Khanal ’16
Following a performance of Battle Hymn of the Republic by the Cadet Chorus, McGeorge once more took the stage to present the following awards.
Heimos Trophy: CSGT Mike Harding
Robert H. Weaver Memorial Award for those who exemplify philanthropic support for MMA: Linda Angel and Robert Moore, parents of cadets Robert and William Moore
Fritsch Plaque and stipend: Mohammad Babak ’16
Dorsey Anderson Class of 1895 Cup: Rodrigo Padilla ’15
Red Ireland Class of 1941 Trophy for a Fighting Heart: Steven Prinster ’15
Mustang Scholars Foundation Plaque: Edmond Biruta ’15
Outstanding Performance by a Company Commander: Victor Marroquin ’15
Don Hooton Class of 1919 Fellowship Cup & Charles I. Wall Cup: Simon Barrera ’15
Legion of Honor: D’Cherion Nelson ’15
M-Club Award: Bravo Company
Highest Athletic Standing: Echo Company
Highest Disciplinary Standing: Charlie Company
Company Spirit Award: Bravo Company
Highest Scholastic Standing: Bravo Company
Highest Military Standing: Company Company
Honor Company: Bravo Company
Academic Dean Dr. Frank Giuseffi next called senior class president and valedictorian Jose Refugio Garcia ’15 to the stage, presenting him with the James C. Olson Award for the Highest Scholarship in the Senior Class. As he took the podium for his remarks, Garcia said he would never have imagined he would be named valedictorian.
“MMA helped me by trial and error to turn my weaknesses into strengths,” he said. “MMA has done the same to all of its cadets.”
Keynote speaker Chancellor of the University of Missouri Dr. R. Bowen Loftin next addressed cadets, relating a few true tales from throughout his career to illustrate his thoughts on leadership.
He began by describing a Gulf of Mexico sailing expedition gone awry in 2008 during his tenure as CEO at Texas A&M University. Six people — four student researchers and two safety officers — set sail. Five returned.
“You’re sleeping and all of a sudden your boat’s upside down, total darkness, and water is coming in rapidly,” Loftin said.
Roger Stone, a 53-year-old father of two, died saving the lives of two students.
“He grabbed the only available life jacket he could find, handed it to one of them and pushed them both out into the sea,” Loftin said.
“Humans like to be loved,” he said. “You have been loved by your parents, your family, your friends, the faculty and staff here at MMA. They love you. But some day as a leader, people won’t love you any more. And that’s a hard thing. It’s a hard thing at my age. It’s a very hard thing at your age.”
Loftin related this somber story to a silent Commencement crowd, connecting it to one of the most important lessons he learned about leadership. He concluded his speech by challenging cadets to remember that the path of a leader isn’t always easy.
“You will be extraordinarily successful in your careers going forward,” Loftin said. “I wish you the very best in your future endeavors. … Congratulations to each of you and best wishes for a very, very bright future.”
After a performance of How To Train Your Dragon by the Concert Band, seniors received their diplomas and walked across the stage, pausing as they descended the steps to pose for a photograph. (Prints can be ordered here.) The ceremony concluded with the singing of Old MMA and the retiring of the colors.
The 126th Corps of Cadets marched from the Gymtorium to the front lawn, forming up for the final moments of their time as cadets at MMA. Family members and friends crowded the roped-off grass, snapping photos as seniors marched to the edge of Teardrop Lake. Upon command by Battalion Commander D’Cherion Nelson ’15, graduating seniors plunged their sabers into the grass, placed their hats upon their hilts, and saluted as the sound of Taps (led by bugler Joshua John ’17) echoed in a round across the silent grounds.
As the final note faded, emotional seniors embraced one another for several minutes, tearfully hugging their brothers. The crowd of family members, faculty and friends flooded the grounds. An hour of tearful goodbyes and hugs followed, as those with early flights broke off and departed campus.