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North Forsyth High pauses to reflect on military service
NF vets
North Forsyth student Avery Babykin receives the Legion of Valor Medal from Commander Paul Moore. The medal has been awarded to only four ROTC members in the country this year. - photo by Micah Green

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The Marine Corps JROTC at North Forsyth High School is broken down into three companies, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, by class period.

Each semester, one group is awarded the title of Honor Company for a mixture academics, military knowledge, fitness and other factors.

Charlie Company was named as this semester’s winner.

“We’re on block schedule, so the kids have to really use two of their electives just to take us,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jack Snook, a retired Marine who has been with the program for 19 years. “It is roughly 80 or 90 [students] per company, and that’s just their class size.

“There’s a mixture of first year cadets all the way up to seniors in the class. The seniors are the leaders and of course the ninth-graders are the followers.”

 

-- Kelly Whitmire

NORTH FORSYTH — The North Forsyth High School Junior ROTC marked Veterans Day, the 239thbirthday of the Marine Corps and the 50th anniversary of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia during a ceremony Monday night.

And like any good birthday celebration, the event involved cake. In this case, it was a time-honored Corps’ tradition of the oldest Marine present receiving a piece of cake and then passing it on to the youngest.

“Not the highest ranking, but the oldest Marine present receives the first piece,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jack Snook. “What he does in turn is pass on the cake to the youngest as a kind of symbolizing passing on knowledge to the younger Marine. And in our case, we don’t have Marines here, we have cadets.”

The event also featured drills by the JROTC and a video presentation on the Vietnam War. In addition, all veterans in attendance — including some members of North’s faculty and staff — were honored.

The highest award of the night went to Avery Babykin, cadet lieutenant colonel and battalion commander, who received the Legion of Valor medal.

“[The award] names me top cadet of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in the entire Southeast United States,” Babykin said. “It is a big honor and it makes me want to do even better than I’ve already been doing.”

Snook said that the award was given annually to just four students nationwide.

Babykin said she plans to stay with the military after earning a nursing degree from the University of North Georgia. From there, she plans to pursue dental school through the Navy, with whom she can eventually work as a dentist.

She said one of her favorite aspects of the JROTC is how the cadets make each other better.

“We all come together and do events and activities for our community and for each other,” she said. “We help each other run and get better physically and mentally and become productive citizens.”

Babykin isn’t the only member of North’s JROTC planning to continue with the military.

Cadets Nathan Hobin, Cameron Houston, Joseph McPherson, Tanner Meyer, AJ Olsen and Jasper Pettis plan to join the Marines. Cadets Hunter Glover and Kate Reyes entered the National Guard this summer.

Snook, a retired Marine who has been the JROTC program for 19 years, said the evening was a success.

“I think the event went well,” Snook said. “… It’s one of those things where the kids did well. Some of the older Marines might have seen some little mistakes and stuff, but for the general mom and dad it went perfect.”