AYER – During the 24th annual Veterans Day program at Ayer Shirley Regional High School last week, four seniors, members of the class of 2023, were presented with military “stoles,” cross-body banners bearing the insignia of the branch of service they’ve chosen to join: The U.S. Marine Corps.
USMC Staff Sgt. Marquise Smith, of the Marines’ Nashua, New Hampshire, recruiting sub-station, presented the stoles to Keith Tomao, Sophia Brown, John Iannacone and Aline Soares. Smith was assisted by Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Gauntlett, ASRHS Class of 2021.
Although they’ve enlisted, these Marine recruits are still high students as well. And they won’t leave for basic training yet. They will complete their final high school year first, as Gauntlett did last year.
They all participate in the ASRHS/Massachusetts Army National Guard Leadership Education Program, established 24 years ago at the former Ayer High School and headed by co-advisors Steve Tulli and Michael McLaughlin.
Tulli, who teaches science and engineering at the school, congratulated the four students.
“The Marines teaches the value of physical and mental strength,” Tulli said. “It’s a challenge (they) have accepted…” Benefits they get in return include college and enhanced career choices, he said.