ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The community honored and celebrated eight high school students who will join the United States military.
The eight were the focus of a military swearing-in ceremony, filled with pride and patriotism, on Monday at St. Augustine High School.
Two of the students will become Marines, five joined the Army and one chose to be an airman.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" rang out loud and proud inside the auditorium of St. Augustine High School in honor of the decisions that the eight students made to shape their futures and serve the country.
"They are about to embark on a journey that will teach them about leadership, personal endurance and courage," said Heather Naughton, dean of students and activities director at St. Augustine High School.
Naughton began holding the military swearing-in ceremonies last year when she attended several athletic signing day ceremonies.
She felt that if athletes are honored, then students serving the country should be too.
"It feels nice to know that people are being recognized for their service, because anybody can throw a football and they'll get recognized for that," said Morgan Ponce, the Marine recruit currently attending St. Augustine High School. "So I think this is great for the people."
Morgan's family -- along with other parents, family members and friends -- watched with pride as their loved ones sat on the stage, preparing to take the Oath of Enlistment.
After the swearing-in ceremony, there was a high-five for Trinity Batie-Greene, an Army recruit, and a hug for Mileah Wilkerson, who is also joining the Army.
There were also lots of photos taken and memories made for the eight students and their families, who will support them during their service.
St. Johns County Schools Superintendent Tim Forson praised the students individually, saying, "Thank you for the direction you are taking to serve our country, my children, my grandchildren and all those who come for generations afterwards."