On November 3, 2022, the campus took a trip to West Frankfort National Guard Armory. The idea for this trip spawned from a conversation with me and, Director of Academics Bradley Becque. Bradley wanted to do something more appreciative of the armed forces than usual; thank you to those staff members that have and are still serving. I offered a trip to the Armory, where I have worked for the past 11 years. He was all for it, so we both worked out the logistics on our separate ends and had a trip.

Once the staff and students arrived, three other soldiers and I met them. They were then shown how to fall into a typical Miltary formation and divided into four squads. Each squad then rotated between 4 stations where they learned about and tried on different pieces of equipment, a few items to name including Body Armor, Helmets, Sleeping Bags, and Night Vision Goggles.

After completing the equipment tour, we moved into the Army Combat Fitness Challenge. The fitness test is the test we take twice a year to measure our physical fitness levels and meet the standards involved in the military. The actual test comprises six events: the Deadlift, Power Throw, Hand Release Push-Ups, Sprint-Drag-Carry, Leg Tuck, and a 2-mile run. Unfortunately, due to time restraints, we only did the first 5.


Power Throw

Hand Release Push Up

Spring Drag and Carry

The Plank

Watching students participate alongside staff and try their all in the events was inspiring and uplifting. After the fitness test, it was lunchtime, and everyone had a choice between thier packed lunch and an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). It turned into a time of excitement and curiosity, and everyone opened thier meals to see what the packaging was like and how to eat the food and asked me personally how I would go about eating the meal they had to choose.

In the end, everyone did so well that the school was invited to come back every year and occasionally throughout the year. Later we did a small reflection, and all students had a positive outlook on the day; some were even inspired by how they did in the fitness test and began conversations about working out more and going to the gym. There were also prize army backpacks for the three students who achieved the highest scores during the fitness test.