By JEFF BENZIGER
Editor of the
Ceres (Calif.) Courier
P.E. students at Central Valley High School got to shoot rounds at insurgent forces from a Green Beret helicopter, parachute into an assigned landing zone and fire rounds at an enemy from a tank last week.
No, not in real life but in simulations offered by the Modesto U.S. Army recruiting stations aboard a $1 million trailer that occupied 53 feet of linear space on the campus and packed with military-related experiences.
According to Army recruiter SSgt. Shandell McClain, the event was not necessarily stressing the military as a career option but college. Of course, she detailed how the Army offers $4,500 in college tuition assistance for each year served in the Army. Army Reserves offers $12,000 through the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Active duty personnel can earn $5,400 per year in college assistance.
"So if you go in the reserves you're looking at about $40,000 for college," said McClain.
Inside the trailer - which came from Fort Knox, Ky. - students had a chance to simulate fly an AH6 helicopter and were instructed that "it's a very difficult machine to try to operate so don't get mad if you crash in two seconds." They also sat perched in a Ground Mobility Vehicle firing a machine gun at enemy targets.
Students were able to put on a 40-pound operations vest and hold weapons. A display inside the trailer provided close-up looks at an AK-47, M4 and MP5 weapons used in special operations. Students are sat inside of two Immersa domes which allowed a movie projection view of combat scenes.
The trailer was a precursor to more college talk coming as seniors start counting down the end of their high school experience in June. Ceres Unified School District is hosting a College Awareness Night from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 at Ceres High School, 2320 Central Ave. Free child care will be provided as officials explain about admissions requirements for community colleges, the CSU and UC systems and all about financial assistance opportunities.