LFMS students learning about the American flag
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Staff Writer
Oct 04, 2013 | 953 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAKE FOREST MIDDLE SCHOOL color guard members are, from left, Allison Branam, Logan Farley, Matthew Ellis, Cian Green and Haley Millsap.
LAKE FOREST MIDDLE SCHOOL color guard members are, from left, Allison Branam, Logan Farley, Matthew Ellis, Cian Green and Haley Millsap.
Several Lake Forest Middle School eighth-grade students are learning color guard and leadership skills through a new program.

School Resource Officer Travis Mull started the color guard to provide an opportunity for students to present the flags and learn more about the American flag.

“We appreciate groups that come in from the outside ... but I just felt like we should have our own team,” Mull said. “We learn about the flag, its significance and what it stands for.”

Mull said he wanted students to understand why it is important to respect the flag and its history.

“To me it’s just not enough to stand and say ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’ and put your hand over your heart. I think they (need to) understand the nuts and bolts of it. What does it represent? Who are we honoring?” Mull said.

The SRO opened the opportunity to interested eighth-graders. Students are required to have passing grades and be committed to participation.

Mull said it is an opportunity for students who may not have an interest in other extracurricular activities to get involved.

“The first thing we are trying to prepare for is to present the colors at some home basketball games,” Mull said.

Mull said they started with the elements that were common to all aspect of color guard, such as the importance of paying attention to detail. Specific drill skills came after that.

“I’ve enjoyed the way we all just get along,” member Cian Green said.

He said the common interest brings the students together.

“I love the fact he is hard on us,” Haley Millsap said of their instruction from Mull, who stresses precision.

She said she appreciates that Mull emphasizes the importance of getting things right.

Green said it can be challenging to remember the commands and the proper pacing.

Millsap said being a part of the color guard requires commitment. Some practices take place during physical education class, and the group meets one day a week after school. In the future, Mull hopes to add some rifle drills to the group’s skill set.

Many of the students will have the opportunity to participate in color guard at Bradley Central High School. Some have aspirations of joining the military.

“I want to go into the Navy when I’m older and I feel like this is a good preparation,” Millsap said.

Green wants to join the Marines.

“I’m just tying to get a head start,” Green said.

Each practice begins with a review, then the group learns one or two new skills.

“It’s just practicing over and over what you just learned,” Millsap said.

Mull said he has enjoyed getting to know the students better through the program. Mull said he hopes the group will inspire others to join and boost morale.

Flags, toppers for the flags, flags poles and harnesses are being provided to the color guard from grant funds.

“I felt it fit well in College Access; we had some funds available in that grant,” BCS grant coordinator Patti Hunt said. “He was meeting the goals and objectives of that grant because of the group of students he was working with, and because of the kind of activity he was doing to keep them in school.”

The College Access grant focuses on keeping students in school and making the transition from middle school to high school a positive one.

SRO Mull was nearly in tears of gratitude when he received the call that a grant would be able to supply some equipment for the program.

“I was just extremely excited. I don’t think I could say anything at the time,” Mull said.

Actual uniforms will be purchased by the students to give them a sense of ownership, Mull said.

“We are going to look like a team,” Millsap said.

The students are excited about ordering their uniforms this week.

Hunt said the program gives students an opportunity to get involved beyond the classroom.

“It’s giving them a leadership role, so it was just an exciting thing for me to be able to help them,” Hunt said.

This year’s inaugural team will help train the seventh-grade students selected for the program before the end of the school year. Mull said he will be recruiting new students two months before school ends.

“I think it’s just part of the leadership — passing on that knowledge to others,” Mull said.

Mull said he hopes to see the program grow.