While only a few students may be familiar with them, the military recruiters stationed at the school work hard to build relationships with as many Bengals as possible.
The primary Army recruiter at Blake, Staff Sergeant Cedric Brooks, chose the school after being impressed by its diversity and positive atmosphere. “It felt like the kind of school I went to, a very diverse student body,” adds Sgt. Brooks.
Marine recruiter, Staff Sergeant Cameron McNeill, also enjoys his time working with Blake students “It’s that atmosphere. Everyone is so alive and happy,” says Sgt. McNeill.
“Our major drawback is finding qualified individuals to join,” Sgt. Brooks says. In order to be qualified, students have to meet many different criteria, including being completely drug-free and motivated enough to endure the strenuous physical training it takes to join. Some students also struggle with passing the required tests for enlistment. Helping them achieve these goals is one of the recruiter’s main responsibilities.
Army recruiters like Sgt. Brooks and Sergeant Shane Grinder, along with other recruiters like Sgt. McNeil and marine staff, meet with as many students as possible to find qualified candidates for service. “Our strategy is to remain vigilant. There are qualified people out there so it just [takes] time, continuously looking for people who would be successful,” adds Sgt. Brooks.
Often, recruiters visit sports teams to look for students interested in the military. Sgts. Brooks and Grinder visit the weight training class here once a semester. Sgt. McNeil and other Marine recruiters visited the varsity field hockey team, setting up “missions” and other exercises for the team. Senior Keara Lindsay says, “The experience was really great. They were really encouraging [and] they would cheer you on the entire time.”
Despite the stigma around recruiters seeming overly energetic about getting students to enlist, the recruiters themselves are more focused on being a resource for students and a positive force in the school.
Whether giving students information about joining up or participating in a sports practice, Sgt. McNeil says, “ I genuinely care about them, I don’t ever want to see anyone after high school not do anything. “
Sgt. Brooks says, “I’m not here to put you in the Army. I’m more here to be just a person in the community and try and help this community any way I can.”