Students take on Sergeant's Course

Students take on Sergeant's Course

Students with the Association Student Body leadership class at Twentynine Palms Junior High School step into formation during their visit to Sergeant's Course, Tuesday. The class was here to learn more about leadership from Marines in the course. Photo by Cpl Ali Azimi.

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (March 28, 2014) – Part of the Marine Corps noncommissioned officer's responsibilities is teach and mentor their Marines into future leaders. It is a task that ensures the future of the Corps and the United States. This week, a class full of sergeants was given the opportunity to go a few steps further and pass on their leadership skills to a class of local students.

Students with the Association Student Body leadership class at Twentynine Palms Junior High School visited the Combat Center's Sergeant's Course Tuesday. 

The class is made of students from different grades and is structured to mold students into leaders. As part of their curriculum, they were introduced to the class of sergeant's undergoing training.

"They wanted to see what we do at Twentynine Palms with our course," said SSgt John Witt, chief faculty advisor, Sergeant's Course. "We've done things in the past with students, from junior high to college. They get to see what these Marines as students get to go through. It helps them correlate what they will be doing in their own class."

The students started with a crash course about the Marine Corps and Marine leaders. Witt briefed them on what is expected of sergeants in the Corps and during the course. As he explained their regular training plan and the physical fitness test, many of the students expressed surprise at the strict physical standards that is expected of Marines.

"The knowledge of leadership we wanted to impart on the students was that as a Marine leader it's not just one thing," Witt said. "One thing by itself will not make you a leader. You can be great in academics, physical fitness and discipline, but what makes a great leader is a well-rounded Marine."

From there, they were led into a room where they met the NCOs of the current class during a leadership discussion focused on leadership and professional ethics. The Junior High kids observed their discussion and soon joined in with questions for the Marines.

"It was good to hear them talk about what leadership really is," said Hannah Boss, student, ASB leadership class. "You hear so many things, and it's good to get their take on it."

After the discussion, the group shifted from theory to practice as the NCOs and students stepped outside for drill. 

"We wanted them to watch that and show how a sergeant of Marines gets out of his formation as a leader and takes charge, so the students can see what goes into that," Witt said. We wanted to give them a few different views of these sergeants in leadership roles, whether its Socratic discussion or getting out in front of actual platoons and marching them. 

The sergeants marched up and down the parking garage across from their schoolhouse with their voices echoing through the structure. The junior high students watched from the side-lines until they thought they believed they had a handle on it.

They split up and inserted themselves into the separate platoons of sergeants, filling in any empty spaces in their ranks. However, soon the sergeants were instructing individual students to lead the platoons and the students stepped up to call cadence. 

After their turn at drill, the students day of leadership training from the sergeants came to an end as they stepped on their bus home and said goodbye to their Marine counterparts.

"I thought it was awesome," said Terry Burdett, leadership teacher and ASB leadership advisor. "I think the kids are going to walk away with a lot of good memories and more leadership skills than they came in with."

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