July 8, 2005 — Many of us may wince at the mere thought of attending a one-week military training session. For five Charlotte Amalie High School seniors, however, the session provided a great learning experience and perhaps an opportunity for a future career in the U.S. Coast Guard.
The group, consisting of three girls and two boys, returned to St. Thomas on Friday after attending the Coast Guards Academy Introduction Mission in New London, Conn.a rigorous summer endeavor which seeks to instill discipline, teamwork and honor into prospective Coast Guard cadets.
Through the program, participants get to experience the cadet life firsthand, working with Coast Guard professionals and other students from around the world in both academic and military settings.
Participant Daria Scott said she learned to balance both the academic and military aspects of the program. "It was a great experience," she added.
Scott and fellow participants Sekoia Rogers and Devrelle Dumas described a typical day at the academya way of life where even the bathroom breaks were timed.
"We would start the day at 6 a.m. and finish at 10 p.m.," Rogers said. "When we went to the bathroom, we basically had two minutes to get in and get out."
But the regimented atmosphere didnt seem to intimidate the trio. "It's made me see that I might want to be a part of that someday," Dumas said. "Before I attended the program, it wasnt a consideration now it is."
Dumas added that the academys grounds also helped to sell her on the program. "It was a schoolit provided a very real physical aspect, with football fields and all the students and the academics," Dumas said.
While such thoughts were echoed by attendees Lenny Phillips and Jevon James, these two were also impressed by the diversity of the program.
"There was one girl there from Korea," a wide-eyed Phillips said. "And there were kids from Hawaii, and a bunch of different places all over the world."
Phillips added that the diversity of participants really enhanced the teamwork aspects of the program.
"Thats what it was all about," James said. "Teamwork and discipline it was a military atmosphere. We got a taste of what to expect if we joined the Coast Guard we learned when to turn it on, and when to turn it off and have fun."
The team, greeted at Cyril E. King Airport by members of the media, was also enthusiastically welcomed by Tom Hoffman, regional president of the Caribbean and Latin American division of the Navy League of the United States.
Hoffman, whose organization helped to pay for the students tickets, thanked and congratulated the group for a job well done.
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