News: MRF-D Marines engage local schools
Story by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
PALMERSTON, Northern Territory, Australia – Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin reached out to students at Moulden Park Primary School by serving an American-style breakfast, helping out in their lessons and breaking a sweat with the pupils during their physical education classes, here, May 15.
The Marines weren’t the only ones visiting with the students at the local school. Consul General Mary Warlick, US Consulate General, also spent time getting to know the students.
“It’s been a real pleasure to be here at Moulden Primary School and to see the Marines at work collaborating with the students,” said Warlick. “I really want to thank the teachers and leadership here at the school for their partnership and bringing the Marines into the school. I think it’s a wonderful collaboration.”
Marines who visit with students at the school three times a week say they enjoy spending time with the children.
“We’ve noticed a big difference in their attitudes. They’re excited we’re here,” said Sgt. Eli Cuaresma, embark chief, Forward Coordination Element, MRF-D. “Their three values are being safe, being responsible and being respectful. We try to talk to them about exactly what those values mean. I feel like we’re making a difference.”
Since last year, when the community-relations program began at Moulden during the first rotation, Marine involvement in the school system has continued to grow. Now there is a Marine presence at Gray Primary School and at Casuarina Senior College’s Clontarf Foundation.
“This is the most rewarding part of the rotation: really developing those ties and those bonds with the community,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Puglisi, officer-in-charge, MRF-D. “The only way [they’re] going to get to know the Marines is for us to be in the community.”
Puglisi said there are plans to expand the community-relations program beyond the school system.
“We’re going to be here for a long time. It’s the second rotation, and the Marines are involved,” said Puglisi. “We want to be part of the community, and I think we’ve laid down that foundation for future growth.”