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HomeAt Home & BeyondCentral High School Navy JROTC Breaks Ground on New Field House

Central High School Navy JROTC Breaks Ground on New Field House

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April 9, 2024, was an auspicious occasion for Central High School’s Navy Junior ROTC (NJROTC) program. Superintendent John Stratton, several school board members, Central High School (CHS) principal Kelley Slusser, NJROTC cadets, and members of the community gathered at the rear of the school to break ground for the Valentina Tomashosky NJROTC Air Rifle Team Field House. Sadly, the person who was indirectly responsible for this occasion, Valentina “Val” Tomashosky, was not present. An outstanding cadet for four years in the program, Valentina, passed away in a tragic accident in April 2021. It was due to the generous $1 million donation of her parents, Gene and Christina, that this field house will be built.

Superintendent Stratton stated in his opening remarks, “Today we carry forward her [Valentina’s] legacy as we begin this journey to build this facility that will not only honor her memory but also serve as a beacon of inspiration for generations of ‘Bears’ [the CHS mascot] to come. With this donation, we are not only building a fieldhouse but also creating opportunities for future ROTC cadets to thrive and become leaders. This is more than just a building. This field house will stand as a symbol of resilience, unity and pride that ties us together as members of the Central High School family.”

Principal Kelley Slusser commented, “It is with great pride and anticipation that we embark on this journey towards the realization of a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as a cornerstone for our NJROTC program. This facility will provide our cadets with a dedicated space for training, fostering camaraderie, and honing their leadership skills.”

Since the program’s inception, the NJROTC cadets have had to practice their air rifle drills in the cafeteria and, despite this, the team has won numerous awards competing against other NJROTC teams. This building will not only give them somewhere to practice, but it will also enable Central High School to host air rifle events.

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Ms. Slusser added, “With this facility, we aim to propel our NJROTC program to new heights, setting the standard for excellence, not only in our state but also on a national level. Through rigorous training, mentorship, and unwavering dedication, we aspire to cultivate leaders of character who will make positive contributions to their communities and beyond.”

NJROTC instructor Commander Christian Cruz, USN, Ret., who oversees the cadets, remarked, “Val was an amazing student, outstanding leader, fearless pilot and overall incredible human being. Cadet Lieutenant Val Tomashosky was our Bravo Company Commander and was a charismatic leader who knew how to inspire her cadets to do the things that sometimes they didn’t want to do. She loved that it was a place where she could win or lose, and in the end, she was a better person for it. She loved that it [NJROTC] was a place where she could be creative, selfless, and generous with her time.”

One of her classmates stated, “Valentina had a huge impact on my life. I wanted to quit [the cadet program], but she told me not to give up. Today I am the team commander and I owe it all to Valentina.” Another team member remarked, “Val inspired me to follow my dreams and today I am a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the world’s greatest Navy submarine force.”

Valentina’s father, Gene Tomashosky, stated, “We cannot think of a better way to memorialize our daughter than this fieldhouse. Her tenacity and resolve to do the right thing, even when it was to her own detriment, made us very proud. She entered high school as a shy, quiet child. She passed away less than two months before graduating as a bold, driven, and responsible adult with a sense of personal, familial and community responsibility.

“This field house represents what is right in the world. Today, in a world of divisiveness and political extremes, this public and private collaboration demonstrates what a group of local people can do when we put our minds together with a common goal for the benefit of the community. This is a beautiful way to keep her alive. We are honored to carry on her efforts and generosity through ‘Love, Val, the Valerie Tomashosky Foundation.’ This field house will continue to serve Central NJROTC cadets for countless generations to come– all in her name,” Tomashosky concluded.

Mrs. Tomashosky commented, “Remember this in the future–when you become successful, please pay it forward, A small act of kindness can change the world. Our foundation’s motto is ‘Changing humanity one person at a time.’ Cadets, we did this for you.”

“Love, Val: The Valentina Tomashosky Foundation” awards scholarships to graduating NJROTC Seniors and donates money to several local non-profit organizations. For more information or to donate, go to www.loveval.org. 100% of all donations go directly to the foundation.

NJROTC Cadets [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
NJROTC Cadets [Photo by Sarah Nachin]
Valentina Tomashosky's graduation photo. [Courtesy photo]
Valentina Tomashosky’s graduation photo. [Courtesy photo]

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