Joe Morgan and Joe Murphy
As the year comes to a close, seniors at Jamesville-DeWitt High School are looking to turn the page, and begin the next chapters of their lives. For many this means college, but there are others who look to take a path less traveled by those from J-DHS. From amateur athletics to military service to international travel, these J-DHS students have big plans for life after high school.
Stuart Harley is following his dream by hitting the ice after college. Harley is going to be playing Junior B hockey for the Syracuse Stars. Harley wants to “develop his skills” as he looks to either work his way into the OHL or find a college hockey team where he can play. “I can go to college whenever I want too,” said Harley, “so I’m just looking to have a little fun.”
The future for other J-DHS students might be a little different from practicing hockey every day. For others, the future will involve the military and serving the United States of America. Jason Bear and Ben Nemier are both planning on joining the U.S. military right after high school because they don't believe college will be a good fit for them at this time. Bear is planning on joining the Marine corps, while Nemier is planning on joining the Army as an infantryman, a position he has wanted since he was a boy. Both will leave in July and are nervous. “I’m feeling nervous, obviously, for drill sergeants directing things 24/7,” said Nemier. “I know it's going to take a lot of hard work, and I’m going to have to work harder than I ever have,” said Bear.
Despite the challenge, Bear is optimistic, and hopes the military can make him a better person. “I’ve always looked up to Marines,” said Bear, who believes Marines are honorable, brave, and respectable men. He plans on using the military as a means to reach his end goal: to become a college graduate.
Gregory Wozniak, Andrew Harmon and Brandan Helmer are three other seniors joining the military. Wozniak is a first generation American, whose parents are German immigrants, but he heard about the Marines when he was in seventh grade. “I have the military in my family, back home in Germany and here in America, (so) it just felt right that I join,” said Wozniak. Wozniak swore into the Marines as an infantryman in May and is planning on staying in the service for at least eight years. “I want to be in for 20 years so I can get a good pension,” said Wozniak.
Harmon has a four-month head start on Wozniak. Harmon swore into a four year contract with the U.S Army National Guard back in February, and has been working for them ever since. Once a month, Harmon is called by the National Guard to attend “drill days,” which is a paid, three-day military training day, usually held in Ithaca. Harmon said that on these drill days, they “shoot simulated guns, learn to use expensive equipment, and get a little knowledge of the dynamics of the military,” said Harmon. Right now Harmon is a private first class, but he will be “ranking up” next drill week. Harmon ships off to Fort Lennerwood Missouri on Sept. 4 for basic training.
Helmer’s path to becoming a Marine began in the values of his friends and family. “The values taught in the Marine corps. are exactly the same values my family believes in, which is a big reason I want to become a Marine,” said Helmer. Many of Helmer’s closest friends, like Harmon, are joining the military, or have already joined. “Andrew Harmon has been one of my closest friends since summer camp in middle school, and I've been friends with Ryan Buck (currently enlisted in the Army) since we were boys, and seeing how much money they are making, and how much fun they're having, kind of pushed me toward joining,” said Helmer.
After graduating in January, Buck left immediately for the US Army boot camp. He graduated basic training on May 28, and is moving on to airborne school. He says that basic training has been difficult, but he is enjoying himself, and is looking towards the next step. He sums up his experience as “three weeks of jumping out of airplanes, and getting paid to do it.”
The five friends, Buck, Helmer, Wozniak, Bear and Nemier, will be supporting each other, and keeping in touch through their time in basic training.
While some seniors plan to enter the military, some hope to follow a path that is far less rigid. Kyle Torrens hopes to travel the world in his years after high school, through a program called LEAPYEAR, through Naropa University of Colorado . Students in this program join a group of eight to 12 of their peers and spend 10 weeks in either India or Latin America. Torrens says that this is not a study-abroad program. ”It’s completely independent. I’ll be studying meditation and walking around in the mountains of India, cooking food, and building houses (for communities in need). It’ll be a cool experience,” says Torrens. According to Torrens, the education is coming from his experiences, not the textbooks. “There is no better way to learn,” said Torrens.
Torrens is leaving for his LEAPYEAR experience in September, and will return to Colorado in May of 2016.