Assabet students try Junior ROTC
Region – Waking to drill sergeants at the crack of dawn might not be in every high school student’s summer plans, but seven students from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School spent one week in Pennsylvania this summer in a rigorous training exercise as part of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC (MCJROTC) program.
The trip was sponsored by Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School’s MCJROTC unit. Grace Poirier, Berlin; Steven Phillips, Boylston; Mikayla Bradford and Vega Mijangos, Marlborough; Robyn Cooper, Northborough; Anthony Harvey, Shrewsbury; and Alexander Morais, West Boylston, applied and were chosen to join the group that traveled to Boswell, Penn., in July. The Assabet students were put in platoons with students from both Montachusett Tech and Fitchburg High School.
Morais had already made the decision to become a Marine after high school, but this opportunity gave him his first real look at military life, right from the first day.
“I’d never put on the uniform, been part of a platoon or been pushed as hard mentally and physically as I was during that week,” he said. “What amazes me the most, though, is how quickly my platoon bonded and felt that genuine concern for each other. By the second evening, we all were commenting as to how it felt as though we’d know each other for years, not hours.”
“I learned things that will give structure to my entire life, using traits that will be with me forever,” he added. “This was a life-changing experience for me. I am still in touch with the rest of my platoon, I’m in the best shape I’ve even been, and I feel like I have begun to embody the Marine code of ethics. I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity.”
Poirier, a senior, admits that the experience was difficult emotionally for her, particularly as she had started her high school career at Montachusett Tech and was a cadet there. Now, coming in as a senior, she had to take orders from younger students.
“The physical challenges of the week weren’t so bad for me; I’ve kept in shape. But I had to push my teammates, and help them get through things even though they were difficult,” she said. “JROTC definitely teaches leadership skills, perseverance, and team building, as well as effective communication. The military mindset promotes selfless-ness, and working together as a unit, not going for personal glory.”
Poirier said that even though she doesn’t intend to join the military after high school, she is glad she had this opportunity to challenge herself.
Assabet Valley is planning a MCJROTC club for students this year, in preparation for perhaps having a unit at the school in the future. “I am looking forward to being a leader in Assabet’s new JROTC club,” Poirier said.
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