Havelock High Principal Jeff Murphy understands the ties that many of the school’s students have to the Marine Corps and Cherry Point.
Now, the Marine Corps has a formal tie to the school.
Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 at Cherry Point officially adopted Havelock High School in a move that strengthens the bonds between both.
"We’ve always been supported by the base, and we have always tried to support the children of our military," Murphy said. "We’ve worked with them in a variety of ways over the years to help make their transitions to Havelock High School successful. This is just going to be one more step in building a relationship with Cherry Point and the Marine Corps and Havelock High School, which has been going on for 50 or 60 years now."
Through the Adopt-a-School program, military personnel from MALS-14 will help the school in various capacities. The Marines can volunteer to work concession stands during athletic events or handle crowd or parking at other events. They can be included in campus beautification efforts. And perhaps one of the biggest influences, the Marines can provide help with the NJROTC program and simply provide a presence to represent the values of honor, courage and commitment of the Marine Corps.
"Anytime you see a man in uniform, people listen a little bit more, and that’s always a help," Murphy said.
Lt. Col. Ryan Goulette, commanding officer of MALS-14, noticed the potential for his Marines to volunteer at the school last year during the school’s annual Crystal Coast Band Classic.
From that point, Goulette, who has a daughter attending Havelock High, worked with Murphy and Donna Bagley, school liaison officer at Cherry Point, to formalize an agreement, which was signed during a ceremony last week.
"We as a unit are very busy, but we have a lot of Marines that, while not deployed, want to contribute to the community," Goulette said. "The Adopt-a-School program is a positive way for us to apply our time and our talents and maybe some of our brain power in the case of the Junior ROTC, to give back to our community."
Goulette said though many of the Marines in MALS 14 come from distant places, they have children who go to Havelock High and are willing to help.
"We do have many people whose kids come to this school, so they’re giving to the school already," Goulette said. "Why not formalize this and build upon that? It’s us giving back to the community, but it’s also the community giving back to us."
Goulette said volunteer hours are important to Marines, and that the opportunity to help at the high school may help some decide to pursue a teaching career when their days in the Marine Corps are over.
"In my mind, this is positive all the way around," Goulette said. "It benefits all the individuals at the high school and at MALS-14."
One of the first opportunities for MALS-14 to have an impact will be at the Crystal Coast Band Classic on Nov. 3. Band Director Jorge Benitez usually needs dozens of volunteers to help with everything from traffic to concessions.
"Mr. Benitez is always looking for some free labor," Murphy joked.
Havelock High becomes the 10th Craven County School to be adopted through the program. Bagley said the Marines support the schools, for example through the students’ senior projects, but the schools also support the Marines when they go on deployments by sending care packages.
"It’s an awesome program," she said. "It’s a way for the kids to benefit from the Marines and their level of expertise, but also a way for our Marines to really get involved in their community and feel a sense of connection, feel a sense of purpose, and to really give back some time to our students."