Students Mark Brunner, CJ Nungester, Dakota Harris, Braedyn Harris, Gage Howell, Patrick McQuirt, Ranger Park, Andrew Perkins, Justin Vance and Collin Wright at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus.

It’s no surprise that high school sophomores who choose to pursue a career pathway at Pickaway-Ross are decision-makers.

Nine seniors and a junior who is graduating a year early took part with nearly 100 fellow enlistees at the All-Ohio U.S. Armed Forces Career Commitment Celebration Tuesday at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus. Jason Scragg, Military & English Learner Education consultant with the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Whole Child Supports, said 93 students from 63 schools attended the event — with Pickaway-Ross having the largest group there.

Six seniors have chosen to serve in the Marines: Mark Brunner (Circleville), Health Administration; Dakota Harris (Circleville), Visual Communication & Design; Braedyn Hopkins (Southeastern), Automotive Technologies; Patrick McQuirt (Chillicothe), Law & Public Safety; Andrew Perkins (Logan Elm), Precision Welding; and Justin Vance (Circleville), Cybersecurity & Networking.

Enlisting in the Navy are CJ Nungester (Circleville), RAMTEC; Ranger Park (Chillicothe), Precision Welding; and Collin Wright (Huntington), RAMTEC.

Junior Gage Howell (Logan Elm), Cybersecurity & Networking, is enlisting in the Army.

While the students aren’t sure if they will make the military a career, all are looking forward to four years of service and what they will learn.

Many students have family members who served and Gage’s brother is in the National Guard stationed in Iraq.

Patrick said all of his family has — until now — been in the Air Force.

“I wanted to get my last name in the Marines,” Patrick said. At this point, he thinks he will serve four or eight years and then pursue work in private security.

SSgt. Christopher Hardin, of the Chillicothe Marines recruiting post, said it’s not uncommon for enlistees to decide to stay in the service once they are in. He said the opportunity for hands-on careers right out of high school appeals to students at Pickaway-Ross.

Parents who attended the ceremony are proud of their sons’ decision.

“I’m glad to see him making his own decisions,” said Steve Park, Ranger’s dad. “(Enlisting) was a big conversation we had with him leading up to this point.”

“I think it is a wonderful opportunity,” said Brandy McQuirt, Patrick’s stepmom.

Ashlee Cockrell, school counselor and military liaison, said the number of enlistees reflects recruiters connecting with students.

“At the beginning of the school year, between the Marines — we have two Marine recruiters, one for each county — and the Navy, recruiters were there at least three days a week.”

Hardin said he finds that if one student enlists, word of mouth brings an enlistee’s friends.

“With the Marine recruiting system, we have direct contact with students,” he said.