Deptford High School seniors celebrated for early military enlistment

Deptford High seniors show courage with military enlistment

Honoring 35 high school seniors from multiple Gloucester County schools were New Jersey officials and military personnel. Pictured from left are Command Sgt. Major Mike Colbert, United States Army; Freeholder Jim Jefferson; Kayla Valentin; Brigadier Gen. Edward Chrystal Jr, United States Army, New Jersey Army National Guard; and Freeholder Dan Christy, liaison to Veterans Affairs. (ELDON GRAHAM/The Sun)

Bravery is measured in many ways, and some Deptford Township High School students measure up very well.

The Gloucester County Board of Freeholders held its seventh annual Enlistee Recognition Ceremony to honor 35 high school seniors from multiple Gloucester County schools who have chosen to enlist in the U.S. military.

The officials recently recognized the seniors for their decision to serve the country and thanked them during this graduation season at the Pitman Golf Course inside the Bogey’s Club and Cafe in Sewell.

The students were paired and seated with veterans from the community. During the ceremony, each student received an award from a representative of his or her selected branch of the military.

Kayla Valentin is eager to show the world what she is made of as she joins the Air Force. Her decision was ultimately led by two factors.

“My uncle, Ron Ward, was in there for about 15 years, and it was one of the first branches that offered me early enlistment to get my first choice of a job, so I was happy,” said Valentin.

Her training and hard work have led her to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, where she will continue her education and make her parents proud.

Valentin is very excited.

“Just counting down the days, ready to go,” she said.

Ryan Smith will be enlisting in the Marine Corps.

“I thought it was best branch for me. I really wanted to be at a difficult boot camp,” Smith said. “I did the research and I felt like that was the hardest. Also, I think the leadership values are important too, and I think the job is best suited for me.”

Smith’s goal is to be an intelligence translator. He starts his training on Aug. 19 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island in South Carolina.

Yael Alvarez is another student from Deptford who gets the opportunity to earn the Devil Dog nickname because he will also be joining the ranks of the Marine Corps.

“The branch overall intrigued me,” Alvarez said. “Everything that comes with the training just pulled me closer to the Marine Corps. I felt like this was my path, and I wanted to enlist.”

Alvarez definitely likes a challenge and believes his time at Deptford High School and with the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has prepared him well for the challenges ahead.

“They prepared me with basic drills and command,” Alvarez said. “They teach about leadership, discipline and everything like that. It helps me a lot, I have a better insight into what’s coming for me and what I needed to do to prepare myself even further in the Marine Corps.”