GLEN COVE, N.Y. -- He walked into the school, a symbol of pride and authority, but this wasn’t a typical high school visit. And for the students, this wouldn’t be their typical Friday gym class.
What they would soon come to find out is that their speed, agility and teamwork was about to be put to the test.
Sgt. Pedro Castillo, a recruiter with Recruiting Substation Hicksville, Recruiting Station New York, was one of the Marine recruiters leading the Marine CorpsFit challenge at Glen Cove High School Feb. 7. It was a timed series of challenges, based off the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test, being conducted at high schools across the Northeast region.
“This event is about encouraging these young men and women to build healthy lifestyles and breaking their misconceptions about the Marine Corps,” said Castillo. “Marines aren’t only about going to war. We’re dedicated to making a difference in our local communities and influencing the next generation of leaders.”
When the students first entered the gymnasium, they were greeted by Capt. Harold Hamilton, an officer selection officer with RS New York. He spoke to them briefly about what defines a leader and ways to incorporate traits like initiative and integrity into their academics and everyday lives. The students discussed influencers they considered good leaders, naming their parents, coaches and professional athletes.
“I really wanted to get the point across to these students that it doesn’t take fame or positions of authority to be a good leader,” said Hamilton. “Leadership starts at all levels, including influencing their peers."
The fitness challenge consisted of three components: a sandbag carry, an 880-yard shuttle run and a movement under duress obstacle course. The students were split into small teams and had to complete each component together for time.
“This was very motivating for me and I can definitely take some of the leadership advice and apply it,” said Alex Aguilar, a senior at Glen Cove High School. “It was nice to do something different and actually get a workout.”
Aguilar plays football for Glen Cove High and said the challenge was very similar to some of the concepts they practice on the field.
“The students really got into it,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Oritheneer, a recruiter at RSS Hicksville. “They were motivated and inspired. Even the students who normally don’t like to participate in the gym class were joining in and having a good time. It’s nice when you’re able to make that kind of impact.”
Eight Marine CorpsFit challenges are scheduled to take place throughout the Northeast region in February. At the conclusion of the challenges, the school with the best competition time will be presented a trophy from their local Marine Corps recruiter.