Fil Am student commands the famous Junior ROTC battalion of Saipan Souther High School

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Manta Ray battalion during the change of command ceremony held at the SSHS ground

THE famous Manta Ray battalion of the Saipan Southern High School is again commanded by a Filipino American student after being led by another Fil Am high school student who brought it honors last year, it was learned yesterday.

Nicole Malasarte is now the new Manta Ray battalion commander, replacing Joanna Yutuc. The change of command ceremony took place last May 18.

According to SSHS Senior Army instructor Richard Basa the process the selecting the new leader was rigorous.

“First and foremost, we look at the candidate’s leadership ability, performance, and experience,” he said.

They require that the battalion commander has held leadership positions in the Junior Reserved Officers Training Course (JROTC). They also require that the leader should have a GPA of 3.0 or better and active in school and community, according to Basa.

After meeting the requirements, candidates would go through an interview process by a board panel consisting of the senior army instructor, the army instructor, and the outgoing battalion commander.

C/LTC Nicole Malasarte selected as the new Manta Ray battalion commander.

The three-man panel selected Malasarte as the new Manta Ray battalion.

Her goal, according to Malasarte, is “to instill discipline, to guide and motivate the cadets, and to help them in any challenges or hardships that they encounter.”

“I’ll be there to help and overcome it with them. Also, I want to make it enjoyable and fun for the cadets so that they have something to remember and contribute to their daily lives and to the community,” she added.

Before taking the battalion commander position, Malasarte said she started off as a squad leader, became a platoon leader, and a company commander.

“It was not easy for me to get to this position,” she admitted. “I had to go through many difficulties and I have learned a lot of lessons.

This is all about hard work and commitment. I believe that anyone can be a great leader if they put in diligence and perseverance in the things he/she does.”

Outogoing Manta Ray battalion Joanna Yutuc with SSHS Senior Army instructor Richard Basa.

Yutuc, for her part, said she has high expectations for the new battalion leadership.

“I’ve known them since they started JROTC and I’ve watched them grow and rise through the ranks.”

Under Yutuc’s leadership, the Manta Ray – being part of the CNMI team – kept the title as Golden Bear West Coast champions.

Manta Ray battalion, under Yutuc’s leadership, retained the Honor Unit with Distinction, “Gold Star” at the evaluation on their JROTC Program of Accreditation held on Dec. 6.  (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/01/02/all-public-hs-in-the-mariana-islands-got-the-coveted-top-honors-in-junior-rotc-program/)

Overall, the Manta Ray battalion scored a 95.28 percent for the JPA Inspection.

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