SAN DIEGO, Calif. – On the final day of the workshop, Brigadier General Ryan P. Heritage, commanding general at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, bid the South Kitsap teachers farewell.
“How did you enjoy the yellow footprints?” the general asked the educators, prompting some nervous laughter from the group. “Hopefully we gave you a little bit of a taste of what it takes to make Marines here, but my hat is off to you all for what you do in educating and mentoring the future of America and our future Marines. Thank you.”
The final event for the educators would be held on a sweltering patch of asphalt where the recruits of Charlie Company waited to graduate from boot camp.
The ceremony was an emotional one for Tami Lester-Dame, a dean at South Kitsap High School.
“I don’t know any better way to conclude a week of learning [than] a ceremony like that, although it’s pretty emotional,” Lester-Dame said. “I lost my dad in September, and he was a Navy guy and it’s still really fresh.”
Theresa Amos, a math teacher at SKHS, said watching the new Marines graduate was a moving experience for her as well.
“It was pretty amazing to watch,” she said. “Just as any other high school graduation ceremony or any other thing, to recognize all of the work and community that goes into producing people moving onto the next level of their lives, may it be just as a high school graduate entering the workforce, or all of their other pathways, or now these Marines.”
As the educators made their way, for the last time, toward the nondescript white buses that had shuttled them around the area for the last week, Amos reflected on the experience.
“My husband is a combat veteran with the Army, so I did have a pretty good understanding of military culture and what it has to offer for the men and women who join in service,” Amos said. “I knew that the Marines were tough. Getting to see it firsthand was spectacular and amazing.”
SKHS math teacher Danielle Caschetta said she was looking to find ways of implementing concepts from the workshop.
“I thought it was an amazing opportunity for us to be able to come here,” Caschetta said. “Hopefully I am able to kind of inspire some of my students to explore the different possible options, either with the Marines or with the different armed forces.”
Caschetta also noted that the workshop has better prepared her to accurately portray the life of a Marine recruit to her students that are considering military service.
“Just us understanding some of the ways that we can point them, towards different opportunities … the more that we know, the more that we can share with them,” she said.
-Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.