By Darrell Wacker
VANDALIA — While not everyone is cut out to be a United States Marine, there are qualities of Marines that can make anyone a better person, and one of those is leadership.
Last Thursday, several Marines spent four hours talking to Butler High School students about the 14 traits of Marine Corps leadership: Justice, Judgment, Dependability, Integrity, Decisiveness, Tact, Initiative, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance.
Students were selected from a wide range of academic clubs and athletic teams to participate.
“We want to give back to the local community and teach these kids to be leaders,” said Sgt. John Norones, a 2009 graduate of Bethel High School. “I’m from this area and it is good to give back to the community I came from.”
Students spent two hours in a classroom discussing the traits of leadership and then moved to the football stadium where they underwent several physical challenges designed to build teamwork and make the students think of solutions to difficult tasks.
“We give them a task, and its up to them to think outside the box on how to complete it,” said Norones. “If one of their team members can’t physically complete a task, they learn to help them complete it.”
Counselor Kelly Stevens said the idea to host the program came from discussions with teachers, coaches, and club liaisons.
“One of the things we see as coaches and teachers is that we ask our young people to lead, but we haven’t taught them the skills they need to lead,” said Stevens. “They learn these skills by observing their teachers, parents, and coaches, but we aren’t teaching them the skills. It’s something we get better at as we get older. I learned about this program and hope they can take things away from it and be better leaders.”
Norones stressed that the program was not a recruitment tool.
“We aren’t recruiting these kids, I’m just here showing them how to be a leader, how they can make a difference in the world, and better themselves as leaders all at the same time,” said Norones.
He said the lessons learned can have a lifetime impact.
“How do you become a leader in your community?” he asked. “By making a commitment and following through on that commitment, keeping your integrity intact, and representing Butler High School in the way it needs to be. We want to represent our community, the community I live in, in a good, positive way. That will help them down the road when they are put in leadership positions in their career.”
“One of the things we hope they get is to know their strengths, but also their weaknesses so they can work on those, develop those as they work to become better leaders and become an overall good person and leader,” said Stevens.
(Photos by Darrell Wacker)