Military options: Ontonagon Area School District considers military presentation before graduation

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette SSG Gabriel Rodriguez spoke to the Ontonagon Area School Board about giving a presentation to juniors and seniors about the options enlisting in the military offers.

ONTONAGON — Sgt. Gabriel Rodriguez attended Monday’s Ontonagon Area School District (OASD) Board meeting. Rodriguez sought the permission from the board to speak to all the juniors and seniors about the options the military branches offer.

“I want to come to speak with all the students,” Rodriguez said. “This consists of a presentation that I give of what all the branches offer, and ending where the students can ask questions to individual military branches.

“The fact of the matter is the students do not know all the options afforded to them.”

Rodriguez stated where this concept is different from military recruiters attending the OASD Career Day.

“Your school has been very good to us,” he said, “this presentation is focusing on all the junior and senior students, not just those that already have an interest in enlisting.”

OASD has a day where the students are informed about representatives from the military as to when they will be at the school. The students can then sign up to meet with them.

“Those students go out of their way to meet with them,” said Rodriguez. “We’re trying to reach out to the other students.”

Dressed in full military garb, Rodriguez stated that there are many misconceptions some students have about the entire experience and that they are too intimidated to talk to active military personnel.

“Most get information from third parties, much of what is simply wrong,” he said.

Rodriguez explained about all the career opportunities the military offers. He explained where employers offer internships and jobs to those that have served in the military. He went on to talk about the financial assistance toward furthering their education in colleges and universities, including for those who attend Gogebic Community College or Michigan Tech.

“They have the money and motivation to finish college.” Rodriguez said, “by setting a day for all the military branches to speak to your students, they will be able to make an informed decision about their next phase in life.”

Board members asked Rodriguez if parents could attend this presentation. Rodriguez answered that if the board would want parents to attend, they could do that.

“I’ve seen where many parents are misinformed,” he said. “Some even think we still have the draft.”

His presentation was not only well received by many on the board, but also by the school superintendent/principal, James Bobula. While Rodriguez was hoping that he could get a day for the 2018-19 School year, Bobula suggested doing this sometime before the end of this school year.

The presentation would be for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes for the students to ask questions in an “auditorium setting.”

Rodriguez stated this this format has been implemented successfully in New Jersey.

While the presentation would be to both juniors and seniors, he stated that the focus of this presentation would be toward the juniors. Rodriguez would do the presentation and introduce representatives from all the military branches.

He has already spoken to principals, and some students, at Jeffers and Baraga.

“This is the first school board that I am trying to establish this with,” Rodriguez said.

Bobula suggested doing this sometime in May.

“This is a time where the juniors are starting to look toward next year, if they have not made their mind up,” said Bobula.

Rodriguez is going to meet with Bobula and the guidance counselor to set up a potential time and date to hold the presentation.