MHS students join the military after graduation
By Shannon McKenna
Round Table editor
After graduation many Middletown High School students spend their summer lounging by the pool with friends, working hard at their summer jobs, going to parties and just enjoying the wonderful season.
Meanwhile, there will be other students who are pushing themselves to the limit, getting up early, running miles and learning what it takes to survive basic training.
Every year at graduation there is an abundance of students and veterans who stand up when MHS Principal Mr. Berno asks the question, “Who here is joining the military after high school and who has served in the military?”
“It’s something I’ve wanted my whole life, going over and fighting in order to better myself as a person and helping others in the military or the civilians. We’re protecting and keeping those who we care about the safest,” said MHS senior Andy Valcourt, who now plans on joining the Marines after his best friend Tyler Leighton convinced him.
There’s even a wall in the cafeteria profiling former MHS students who have joined the military and information about their careers.
“The military enabled me to see the world. I would have never thought that I, a kid born and raised in Wolfsville, would be the lead truck of 75 gun trucks, 150 troops, and hundreds of millions of dollars in military equipment to drive out of Iraq and into the green zone. It was very surreal and humbling,” said MHS alumni Gary Pryor.
There are five branches of the military including: army, air force, navy, marines and coast guard. Over the years family members have continuously served to help protect civilians from unknown danger, so for many students joining has become almost a tradition.
“My family has always served in the military, so I guess it just made me want to serve just as much. I really can’t see myself like all the other students who will be starting college next fall, it’s just not where I want to be,” said MHS senior Tyler Leighton, who plans on joining the Marines after high school.
Although each branch of service has different requirements for entrance, to join the military today, and become an enlisted member, requires a high school diploma. Also, minimum entrance-age requires that students are 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent.
Future military students also have to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test [The ASVAB’s] which consists of the following eight individual tests general Science, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, mathematics knowledge, electronics information, auto and shop Information, and mechanical comprehension. The multiple-aptitude test takes about three hours to complete testing students verbal, math, science, and technical skills.
“To prepare for basic training and the ASVAB’s I spend hours studying for the tests and try to get myself into the best physical shape possible,” said MHS senior Michael McCoppin, who plans to join the Coast Guard after high school.
Because of the varying physical demands on service members in each branch, physical requirements vary greatly between departments. Generally speaking, potential service members should be in good physical condition, of appropriate weight and able to pass a standard physical screening prior to entry.
Leighton said, “For the branch I want to join [Marines] we spend numerous hours doing physical training, like just last week we had to run five miles, uphill. The goal is to put our bodies in physical pain while keeping our minds pumping.”
The military is a foreign place that some students don’t even think about when debating where to go next fall. While for these students it’s the opposite, many of them had a hard time thinking of where they would go if they weren’t joining the military.
But as for careers their answers included a fireman, law enforcement official, a gym teacher or forensic scientist.
“After I serve active duty for four years, I’m going to be a mechanic and volunteer firefighter because I will still be protecting my community and family,” said MHS senior Donald Beardsley, who plans on joining the Army after high school.
The students have learned to follow the basic knowledge known as the 14 leadership traits, 11 general orders, and three core values in order to keep up with training and preparation to the toughest measure.
The 14 leadership traits include:
Justice, judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, tact, initiative, endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and enthusiasm.
The 11 general orders are:
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view
2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing
3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce
4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guardhouse than my own
5. To quit my post only when properly relieved
6. To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.
7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty
8. To give the alarm in case of fire or disorder
9. To call the corporal of the guard in any case not covered by instructions
10. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased
11. To be especially watchful at night and during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no on to pass without proper authority
And finally the three core values are honor, courage, and commitment, showing just how much dedication and commitment these students show for their country and the people they care about.
“I think everyone who joins the military realizes that in order for the land to be free, we have to be the home of where the brave are, it’s all about going over to protect and keep everyone safe,” said Valcourt.
The MHS students who are joining the military will be learning and experiencing things unlike anything they have ever imagined. They may even come out of it with a different perspective from their former high school peers on life.
“The military experience humbled me as an individual because I served a higher purpose than myself. The experience has left me feeling very isolated from my peers: less than one percent of US citizens serve their country, and even less than that have been to places I’ve been and seen what I’ve seen. I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and am appreciative of all the things most of my peers take for granted,” said Pryor, “After I hang my boots up this December, after serving nearly 10 years in the Army, I can say with utmost confidence that what I learned the most about from joining the military was myself. People who knew me 10 years ago wouldn’t know me now.”