Aiken High School's Naval Junior ROTC unit welcomed two new student leaders for 2014-15 – Commanding Officer Phillip Merry and Executive Officer Raymond Moister.

During a change of command event on Friday, Tony Negron, the senior commander, cited Merry's strong record of academics and performance, as well as being “extremely humble, compassionate and understands that actions also speak louder than words.”

Moister was described by Negron as assertive and self-assured, with his strongest assets “a caring attitude and a wonderful sense of humor.” Merry has been promoted to lieutenant commander, while Moister has received the rank of lieutenant.

Through the past year, Moister said he and Merry motivated each other in seeking top roles in the company. As a sophomore, Merry learned a lot from XO Joshua Strickland, his platoon leader. This year he was impressed with the leadership skills and humbleness of the CO, Kyle Burney.

The outgoing officers were also congratulated for their contributions to the program by Negron and Senior Chief Bruce Bryant. They were impressed by the young men's assertiveness, good judgment and common sense, Negron said.

“Both cadets, Strickland and Burney, have been standout cadets for a number of years now,” Negron said. “Senior Chief and I have placed a very heavy burden of leadership on their shoulders ... My XO and CO, and the staff they led, made me proud.”

The battalion grew to 187 cadets, accumulating more than 3,300 hours of community service. The two academic teams finished first and fourth in the Navy North Carolina Brain Brawn Championship, and they took the top two places in the Navy North Carolina and South Carolina Academic State Championships.

The rifle team finished second in the North and South Carolina Navy State Rifle Championships and qualified for the Navy National Rifle competition.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter. and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.