At the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, recruits are expected to go through weeks of intense basic training. And recently, some local educators were invited to participate in a few of those skill-building exercises to give them a taste of military life.
Representatives from Hernando and Springstead high schools attended a workshop for educators at the institution in South Carolina.
The purpose of the four-day session, said Hernando High assistant principal Angela Miller Royal, was to see what goes into the making of a U.S. Marine.
"They really rolled out the red carpet for us," Miller Royal said. "We spent a lot of time hands-on, trying things. We got to handle guns, and we got to do simulators of guns."
They tried out the shooting range and had a chance to bounce down a repelling tower in harnesses.
They were there, she explained, so they could go back home and speak informatively to students about the military as an option. They were not there to learn to be recruiters. The various branches of the military have plenty of those, she said.
Rather, the workshop helped prepare them for times when students are looking at their futures and wondering what the military offers. Miller Royal compared it to the car-buying experience. If you have questions about the car, you might want to talk to someone who has ridden in it, rather than the person trying to sell it.
One of the best parts of the workshop, she said, was meeting and talking with recruits. They met with some who were just arriving and others who were on the verge of graduation. The difference between the two groups impressed her.
"They immediately start building them into a team," Miller Royal said. "They really learn brotherhood and teamwork.
"We actually ate with recruits three weeks away from graduating. They were very excited to graduate."
When she wasn't shooting rifles or repelling down towers, Miller Royal and the other 80-plus educators from Florida were in sessions, gathering information to share with interested students.
"The Marine Corps offers a lot of opportunities and education that I really wasn't aware of," she said.
Part of the workshop was a question-and-answer session with the base's commander, Brig. Gen. Lori Reynolds, whom Miller Royal described as approachable, down-to-earth, respectful and appreciative of what educators do.
"It felt good," she said.
The entire time was very enlightening, she said, and she recommended it for anyone who has the opportunity to go. It is open to high schools and paid for by the Marine Corps.
Hernando High staff and educators who attended include bookkeeper Joy Nagy, who is student government sponsor, paraprofessional Sue Link and Miller Royal. Those from Springstead High were assistant principals Wallace Selph and Dana Pearce and teachers Paula Eisenberg and Michael Hafliger.
Reflecting on the event and illustrating how much it impressed her, Miller Royal said: "If I could go back and do it again, I might join the Marine Corps."