The Central Crossing High School Naval Junior ROTC program is looking for some help in reaching Hawaii -- but it's not about having a vacation from winter in Ohio.
The school's NJROTC has been selected as the only representative from Ohio to participate in the 2014 Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade Dec. 7 in Hawaii.
About $70,000 needs to be raised to help pay the way for the 57-member Junior ROTC unit to make the trip, said Sgt. Maj. Donald Bocook (Ret.), Central Crossing's Naval Science instructor.
"It's a huge expense," he said. "It normally takes about $20,000 to operate our program, and this trip will add a whole lot more on top of that, when you take into account air fare, hotel and other expenses.
Nearly half of Central Crossing's families are classified as economically distressed, Bocook said.
"We're looking for some generous benefactors to step forward and help us," he said.
The unit has held and will continue to hold a number of fundraising activities, he said.
"We rely on donations from the community to help pay the costs of our program," Bocook said. "We also receive a lot of support from our Boosters organization."
A pancake breakfast for the NJROTC will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. March 22 at the Grove City Masonic Lodge, 3558 Park St.
Donations can be sent to the Central Crossing High School NJROTC, 4500 Big Run South Road, Grove City 43123.
Typically, only units from each "battleship state" have been selected to participate in the Pearl Harbor parade, Bocook said.
"We are one of only four at-large units from non-battlefield states, and the only one from Ohio, to be selected for the honor this year," he said. "And it is quite an honor."
Central Crossing did not apply to participate, Bocook said.
"When they called me to tell us we were invited, I thought it was a joke at first," he said.
The school's NJROTC's achievements, including being named a "distinguished unit" for 10 consecutive years since 2004 and winning the national championship in 2012 at the National High School Drill Team Championships likely helped bring Central Crossing to the event organizers' attention, Bocook said.
While the trip to Hawaii is still more than eight months away, "everyone is really excited about it," said Devin Wesolowski, a sophomore and cadet petty officer, second class.
"At first, I didn't believe we had been picked for the parade," he said. "We're just a small-town school."
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said junior Daylin VanSteenburg, a rifle commander with the unit.
The NJROTC "is almost like a big family," she said. "It's fun to work together on something, like a team."
The discipline she is gaining from her participation in the unit has helped make her a better student, VanSteenburg said.