Newport Public Schools has announced that Colonel Nhyzazia Ortiz, along with her staff, successfully led the Viking Battalion to reach the Gold Star Standard and highest accreditation level:  Honor Unit with Distinction.  Working as a cohesive team, they achieved an exceptional overall score of 95% at the tri-annual Program of Accreditation. The accreditation consisted of a series of drill exams, an in-ranks inspection, a supply management inspection, a continuous improvement briefing, a service learning project presentation, an annual audit unit report review, and portfolio presentations with interviews by select Cadets, as well as the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) faculty.

Cadre from the University of Rhode Island Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) conducted the first part of the inspection on October 25th, and an Army Civilian Inspector from Cadet Command completed the final phase of the inspection on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018.

This is a great achievement. 

·         Less than 10% of the JROTC programs achieve this highest level – and there are over 1,700 Army JROTC programs in the US and overseas.

·         To give you an idea of how rare this achievement is, consider the fact that all high school seniors applying to West Point and the other service academies must have a formal nomination – often from a member of Congress like Senator Jack Reed or Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. However, Cadets like these, achieving the Gold Star Standard in the Viking Battalion also automatically earned a service academy nomination – by earning the rare Honor Unit with Distinction status, at all of the four service academies.

The entire Corps of Cadets were presented with a Honor Unit of Distinction streamer by Colonel Robert Young, NACTC Director, the HUD streamer is an overall unit award, belonging to everyone in the program.  In addition, the following Cadet Leaders, charged with leading the battalion, teaching the curriculum, and caring for each student, helping them reach their full academic, social-emotional, and athletic potential were also presented with awards as noted.  Collectively, this elite cohort performed with rare grace under pressure. They succeeded in motivating All Cadets to give their best for the inspection. Because of their rare accomplishment, each of them has received the Army JROTC Award for “Excellent Staff Performance”, additionally, they will each receive the Gold Star pin to wear with pride on their uniform and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Newport School Committee.

Cadet Colonel Nhyazia-Renee Ortiz – Battalion Commander/ Class of 2019

Cadet Command Sergeant Major Brian W. Neal – Battalion Command / Class of 2019

Cadet Major Joseph S. Frederick II – Battalion Executive Officer / Class of 2019

Cadet Captain Ethan P. Mello – Battalion Adjutant / S-1 Officer / Class of 2020

Cadet Captain Peter Hedba – Battalion Security Officer / S-2 / Class of 2019

Cadet Major Ryan S. Silvia – Battalion Operations Officer / S-3 / Class of 2020

Cadet Captain Angelica H. Heflin – Battalion Logistics Officer / S-4 / Class of 2019

Cadet Second Lieutenant Lucian Sullivan – Battalion Public Affairs Officer / S-5 / Class of 2021

Cadet Second Lieutenant Angel D. Cruz – Battalion Signal Officer / S-6 / Class of 2021

Cadet Captain Dante L. McCray – Alpha Company Commander / Class of 2019

Cadet Captain Monique A. Allen – Bravo Company Commander / Class of 2020

          Superintendent Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D. remarked “We are very proud of our young Cadets and the Viking Leadership Academy at the Newport Area Career and Technical Center.  They are already showing strong leadership skills as future leaders and we will continue to support them so they can continue to be successful.”

          Colonel Robert Young, Director of the Newport Area Career and Technical Center had the following to say “As an Army Officer and Army ROTC graduate, I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the corps of Cadets. Their quality of leadership is second to none. Their preparation and hard work is what let to their success. As a leader in the Army for over 24 years, it would be an honor to have any of the cadets serve with me in my unit. It is an honor to have the opportunity to work with them.”

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.