This article is written by journalist Gil Pound of The Union-Recorder in Georgia, USA. Due to the new GDPR laws internet users attempting to access the original source of the article on www.unionrecorder.com from within the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU are unable to do so at this time.
GMC Prep cadets back stateside after British experience
For the second year in a row GMC Prep sent a group of cadets to participate in a cultural exchange program at the Royal Hospital School near Ipswich, England. Later this month, GMC will welcome two RHS cadets who will spend about a month on the campus.
A group of 13 Georgia Military College Prep School students spent a significant portion of their summer break doing something that is high on the to-do list for many Americans.
The young men and women had the opportunity to travel to a part of the world they hadn't seen before as they flew across the Atlantic Ocean to visit the Royal Hospital School in England through part of the month of June.
The immersive experience was made possible thanks to the relationship forged four years ago between Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, IV, president of GMC, and Col. Andy Jackson whose two children attend the historic school near the town Ipswich. When Caldwell and Jackson met, Jackson was the British liaison officer at Ft. Benning. The two discussed a sort of cultural exchange between the two schools, and it was eventually made into a reality last summer and continued this year. Three GMC Prep cadets made the trip in early June for the start of a five-week experience and they were later joined by 10 more of their colleagues who had signed up for a 10-day excursion. All have now returned stateside and are enjoying the remainder of their summer breaks before the start of the upcoming 2018-19 school year.
A select few of the students, along with GMC Prep Associate Principal Dr. Steve Greer and biology teacher Emily Boylan, who accompanied them on the trip, along with Caldwell sat down with The Union-Recorder Monday morning to reflect on their unique exposure to the life of British teenagers attending the Royal Hospital School. The three GMC Prep cadets who arrived first were fully immersed in the school's culture and even attended some classes while the other 10 participated in different military-based activities along with a little sightseeing.
"It's just another added benefit of what we do here at Georgia Military College Prep School," Caldwell said. "We want to expose our students to as many things as possible to best prepare them as they go forth in their lives and do great things. This is another unique thing that we've been able to establish now that we want to continue."
The Royal Hospital School is both a co-ed boarding and day school for students 11 to 18 years old. Like GMC Prep, their students' educational experience is enriched by different military activities held on campus. RHS was founded in 1712 in Greenwich before being moved to its current site next to the River Stour in 1933.
From GMC's Corps of Cadets to the RHS Combined Cadet Forces some of the practices at the two schools might be somewhat familiar to both parties such as military parades, but quite a few differences were observed as well.
"Our JROTC program is focused more on leadership where theirs [the Royal Hospital School Combined Cadet Force] is focused on kind of leadership/quasi-military training," Greer said. "It gives those cadets a much better appreciation for what the military does. You can be in JROTC for four years here and you may or may not get it, but going out there and experiencing the overnight trips and adventure training ... puts it in a different perspective."
One such activity where the GMC cadets were put in the thick of a military experience was the 48-hour field training exercise or FTX. They went on patrols, executed ambush techniques, practiced medical evacuation, and did many other things during the overnight exercise.
"My favorite part of the trip had to be the overnight FTX because we were doing all the things I really like to do," said Hudson Caldwell, a rising sophomore at GMC Prep. "We had one MRE for a 24-hour MRE pack that you had to eat and we had to ration that out."
While each cadet that made the long trip from Milledgeville may have had different experiences marked as their favorites from their time in England, all agreed that the cultural exchange with their British counterparts was one of the biggest highlights.
"We did a lot of activities, but I think my favorite thing was the times that we got to sit down and talk to people," said rising sophomore Cole Rogers. "The last full day after the barbecue we all sat down and just talked. We talked about music and lots of other things. We tried to find differences between America and the U.K., so that was my favorite part."
Though this was the second year GMC Prep cadets have traveled to RHS, later this summer RHS will return the favor for the first time and send two of its own students to Milledgeville to live the life of a GMC cadet for about a month. They'll stay in the Baugh Barracks on the GMC campus and even attend Raider practices to get a good feel of daily life at the local military school.
Associate Principal Greer added that this unique relationship that spans thousands of miles separated by an ocean is hopefully building to a different kind of exchange.
"As we continue to kind of stair-step this we would like to swap teachers... That's kind of in the works as well," said Greer. "We're taking it slow to see how our two countries can mesh and how our two schools can work together and develop a greater understanding and appreciation for each other's school systems. I think one day we will get to that where we can send one of our teachers over there to impart some of our American knowledge on them, and we would love to have one of their teachers come here."
"I would very much be up for it," said Boylan, GMC Prep's biology instructor. "I spoke with some of their biology teachers and observed a couple of classes. There were many parallels as far as curriculum. I think that would be a lot of fun."
Greer said more than 30 GMC Prep students applied to participate in the RHS experience this year, but as the number of cadets who have already made the trip grows amongst the student population he expects that number of applicants to climb rapidly in the coming years because When asked if taking time out of their summer breaks to essentially spend more time at a school was worth it, the four cadets interviewed answered with a resounding, "Absolutely."