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Students participate in Army Career Day

Students climb rock wall at Agawam High School with U.S. Army soldiers on career day. Reminder Publications Photo Submitted by George Bitzas
By Katelyn Gendron-List, Staff Writer

AGAWAM On June 6 the Springfield Army Recruiting Station hosted a full day of activities for students as part of Army career day at Agawam High School in conjunction with the school's Career Center and Guidance Department.

The day's activities featured an Army rock band from Fort Lee, Virginia, a presentation of Army vehicles including Humvees, a rock-climbing wall, and a computer simulated M-16 firing range. There were also many Army personnel helping with the event, all of whom were representing various careers such as Military Police, Intelligence, Law, Administration, and Medics.

"We get to show the kids what the Army is really about, not just the soldiers that fight but the support personnel," said Sergeant Kevin Cherrington of the Springfield Army Recruiting Station. "Everybody knows that the Army has no trouble getting people to fight but we want to show that there are many other avenues, like support jobs."

According to Captain Brian Oertel, of the Springfield Army Recruiting Station, 80 percent of the recruiters have previous combat experience, including Oertel himself, who has served two tours in Iraq during his eight years of service.

"Most soldiers are here today because they understand the Army mission of recruiting and they take it seriously," Oertel said. "We want to make sure that the youth of America have all the options presented to them, college and the military, so that they can make an informed decision."

Alan Cohen, a guidance councilor at the Agawam High School, who helped to coordinate this Army career day, shares the same belief as Oertel.

"As educators it is important to provide the kids with every option," Cohen said. "If they are not sure what they want to do the military can provide them with a career and an education."

According to Frank Meagher, another guidance councilor at Agawam High School, who headed the effort in the guidance department to coordinate the Army career day, it was important to let the students have hands-on experience so that they are aware of what the military has to offer.

Cohen went on to state that he has had nothing but positive interactions with the Army recruiters, who often set up tables during lunch, especially because they are not "pushy" with the students. There were six students from the 2007 graduating class that decided to join the military.

According to Cohen, the students were excited about Army career day and had a great time.

"My favorite part of today was riding in the Hummer because I felt like I was one of the crew," Nick Boucher, a ninth grade student at Agawam High School said. "But right now I'm not thinking about joining up."

Mayor Richard Cohen was also in attendance, showed nothing but support for the day's events.

"This gives the students an opportunity to meet with real live people who are serving our country, and that it isn't just about war but about preserving our way of life and our freedom," said Mayor Cohen.

According to Alan Cohen, the school is looking at having another Army career day in the fall, which they hope will feature the cinema van. This is a van equipped with a stadium theater that shows movies on such subjects as physics and math and relates them to careers in and out of the military.

The military career days also give the students opportunities to understand what is going on outside of their own immediate worlds.

"The students' interactions with the soldiers on the ground will hopefully impact them, so that in the future they can draw a connection to what's going on in the world," said Oertel.