(Press release from Bossier Sheriff's Office)
By Lt. Bill Davis
The Bossier Sheriff Young Marines will graduate its largest class of recruits Tuesday, January 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bossier Sheriff's Substation, 2510 Viking Drive in Bossier City.
Class 23 will graduate 62 recruits after completing 13 weekends of training, which included physical training, team motivation, confidence building skills and more. Classes in the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines have steadily grown over its 10-year existence, with Class 23 starting out with 81 recruits.
The guest speaker will be Michael Nerren, Assistant District Attorney, Juvenile Division, of the 26th Judicial District Court.
The Young Marines program is a national program founded in 1958 and is the official youth program of the United States Marine Corps. The Bossier Sheriff's Department was the first law enforcement agency in North Louisiana to implement the program, which began its first class of recruits on Dec. 7, 2002. Since then, the lives of more than 900 young men and women have been impacted by the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines program.
During the ceremony, the Young Marines will show off some of the ceremonial skills they have learned, as well as receive awards and promotions.
"I am very proud to honor these young men and women as they officially become Bossier Sheriff Young Marines," said Bossier Sheriff Larry C. Deen. "They have worked extremely hard over the past 13 weekends, and they can hold their heads up high as they reap the success of their accomplishments in training."
Lt. Norman Craig, a former Marine and current commanding officer of the Bossier Sheriff Young Marines for the past five years, has seen hundreds of kids "grow up" in the program.
"This is a program that teaches young people self-discipline which helps foster the growth for self-confidence, teamwork and leadership," Craig said. "When they arrive here on day one, many are scared, and they don't know what to expect," said Craig. "But you can see the growth - the lack of assurance becomes self-confidence and rebellious attitudes give way to self-discipline - and they learn to hold themselves to a higher standard and not be drug down by peer pressure."
Another key character change is making wise choices. "We teach young men and women that they need to make good choices in life and that there are consequences for every choice they make," Craig noted. "Every young person can benefit from that."
Along with parents, family members and friends at the ceremony will be members of the Bossier and Caddo Parish School Boards, Bossier Parish Police Jury, Office of Juvenile Justice, Office of the District Attorney, and area judges. Also attending will be principals, teachers, school resource officers and members of the local chapter of the Marine Corps League.
The Young Marines program is open to all Bossier Parish school-aged youth, ages 8-18, and is sponsored and administered by Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen and the Bossier Sheriff's Department. Volunteer instructors from the United States Marine Corps assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines here in Bossier City are also an integral part in the training. Applications are now being accepted for the next class which begins Feb. 18. For more information on how to enroll your youth, contact Lt. Craig at 318-965-3500.