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Many from North opt for military
School-record 24 prepared to serve country
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

The following members of the class of 2014 from North Forsyth High School are entering the military:

* Air Force: Alexander Hanson

* Army: Keenan Aldrich and Kaitlin Newberry

* Marine Corps: Paxton Brownlee, Joshua Day, Jacob Denson, Michael Gerchman, Corbin Glover, Ara Johnson, Heath King, James Lane, Melissa Mannon, Jacob McClain, Chase McFarling, Katie Mulko, Brandon Randle, Ben Strube, Jessie Vlaun, Austin Weldon and Jacob Wood

* National Guard: Aaron Bohan and Derrick Roughton

* Navy: Michael Carter and Chelsea Workman


Source: North Forsyth High School

NORTH FORSYTH — In the nearly two decades Maj. Charles Kelly has been teaching the Marine Corps JROTC program at North Forsyth High, he’s never seen such dedication to military service as shown by the school’s class of 2014.

Twenty-four recent North graduates will be entering the military ranks, with 17 of them enlisting in the Marine Corps. In addition, one graduate is going into the Air Force and two each are entering the Army, Navy and Georgia National Guard.

“This is the largest number of students and the largest percentage of the graduating class that has elected to serve our nation immediately after graduating from high school,” Kelly said.

“Having this many from one class is exceptional and it well represents our county’s educational, ethical and patriotic standards.”

In addition to enlisting, Samuel Kemp, April Castillo and Chris Cooper received an Army, Marine Corps and Navy scholarship, respectively. Clay Barton was also appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which Kelly said is a huge accomplishment given the stiff competition.

“A student has a better chance for being admitted to Harvard than to be accepted to attend one of our academies,” he said.

A total of four graduates were selected for a course of study that will lead to receiving a commission in the military, which Kelly said may be a county record to have that many future officers come from a single graduating class.

He also noted that two other graduates are in the process of enlisting in the Marines, adding that the majority of the 17 students were part of North’s JROTC program.

“Successfully completing two years of JROTC will give them an automatic promotion after completing basic training/boot camp,” Kelly said. “While taking JROTC does provide a solid background for a recruit, it certainly is not mandatory to succeed in the military. I think that any service member who is willing to work had and learn will be successful.

“The county should take genuine pride in our students’ willingness to leave the security and comfort of home to serve in the military.”

Kelly said he and Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jack "Gunny" Snook have seen more than 175 graduates, including their own sons, enter the military after graduating from North.

“No matter which service they joined, we cannot help but feel a sense of extreme pride in their decision to serve,” he said. “They are becoming our brothers and sisters in the military profession. They are becoming a part of our family.

“These young men and these young ladies are in for the ride of their lives.”