LTC Gabriela Perez took over as battalion commander of the Leesville High School Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) during the 41st annual change of command ceremony at the LHS Track.

For more than 40 years, the JROTC program has been an important part of the Leesville High School Curriculum.

This military tradition represents the formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commander to another. Perez assumes command from LTC Alexis Spurgeon.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Alexis with a frown. “But I have complete confidence in Perez.”

According to Alexis, she learned a lot about herself from leading the battalion and she gained more confidence within herself, but she will not be making the military a career. “I plan on going to college for business,” she said.

Battalion commanders are selected based on their past performance and demonstration of potential leadership for the future.

“I hate to see her go,” said JROTC instructor LTC (ret.) McAllister. “I’ve known her a long time and she is a very wonderful girl, one of a kind, she is tough to lose, but no matter what she decides to do she will excel at it.”

Perez is confident she has what it takes to lead the battalion. “I have a mixture of excitement and stress,” she stated with confidence. “But no matter what, we will get through any challenges we face,”

This is not just a hobby for Perez, who wants to make the military a career. She was among a small number of applicants chosen to attend a course at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. for a short period this summer.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance just to get chosen.” Perez is also ready to work with her fellow JROTC members and embark on the journey they will be facing together.