Eastern High School graduate, BJ Sprague, is now PFC Sprague. He is in the United States Marine Corp.
By Anissa Risper and TNCP Staff
LANSING, MI -- Barb Sprague is the proud mother of her son, BJ Sprague. On September 9, 2016, he finished boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (MCRDSD) in San Diego, California. He is a now full-fledged Marine.
Barb said, “ BJ is my hometown hero. I am so proud of everything he has accomplished so far."
While in training, he was promoted to squad leader. He was determined and motivated to succeed. However, in the midst of training, he received an injury and was sent to Medical Rehabilitation Platoon (MRP).
BJ said, “While I was MRP I was really caught off guard. I knew recruit training would be a huge challenge but getting injured there never even crossed my mind as a possibility. I was just glad to have a speedy recovery and had learned not to take training for granted.”
Not discouraged by his injury, BJ was even more determined to complete his Marine training. He was able to resume training with a new company in 3 weeks.
When he picked up with his new company he was extremely motivated and says he always put forth his maximum effort in everything he did and his drill instructors recognized that.
He added, “I think being at the recruit depot those extra 3 weeks gave me a lot of insight and I learned a lot from other recruits.”
Within the first week of being in his new company, BJ was promoted to squad leader but he did not want to stop there, he wanted to be the guide. The guide is the platoon honor graduate. Within the platoon recruits compete to be the top in all categories. The recruit who performs at the highest levels earning the highest scores and qualifications from physical fitness to marksmanship all while demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities as well as upholding the Marine Corps core values of honor courage and commitment earns this title.
BJ enlisted in the Marines because he has always been interested in the military and he knew it would help him grow both mentally and physically as a young man. He made a lot of mistakes after leaving high school and wanted to do something that he could be proud of and actually feel accomplished.
“After becoming a squad leader I didn't let up. I kept pushing myself to be the best and about 3 weeks later I was chosen to be the guide. Because I was able to earn that billet and maintain it throughout the course of recruit training I was meritoriously promoted to a Private First Class. I’d definitely say that I've always been a competitor, weather it's sports or trying to be top of my class,” says BJ.
It Takes a Village
As a graduate of Eastern High School in Lansing, MI, there were many people who helped BJ along the way. He was a successful high school graduate in 2012 and graduated at the top of his class. He is also a proud Eastern High School International Baccalaureate® (IB) alumni.
The IB program was implemented at Eastern in 2006, it offers college level classes that challenge juniors and seniors. It is a very highly respected program throughout the world. It helps students develop intellectual skill that allow students an opportunity to become critical thinkers and problem solvers. Participants can choose courses in 6 subject areas (language/literature, the arts, experimental sciences, individual/societies, math/computer science and foreign languages).
While playing football in high school, BJ learned to deal with constructive criticism and accepting responsibilities. The discipline it took to learn the plays and to prepare for games helped him to improve and excel in other areas in his life. His “never give up” motto has been ingrained in him by his mother and coaches.
BJ says, “I like a challenge and at the end of the day no matter how hard to the road seems to get there, the sense of accomplishment is well worth it. I am far from perfect and there is always room for improvement you just have to keep moving in the right direction.”
In his current military occupational specialty code (MOS), he is learning about ground electronics data, systems, and repairs. He said that he is grateful for the education he received from the IB program. He added that he has noticed a lot of concepts he is studying now are ones he learned while in high school.
Barb says, “Raising children is not easy. I do not know what I would have done without the support of Eastern staff; IB Coordinator, Ms. Emily Oberlitner and football coach Officer John McBride. It takes a village and I am grateful for everyone who helped push him hard towards reaching his full potential.”
This was printed in the December 25, 2016 - January 7, 2017 edition.