May 18, 2021

Teen Scene

By Lori Draz and Marc Singer

Welcome to Teen Scene. Each month our young authors write, in their own voice, stories that will educate and inform fellow students and parents. If you are a teen who would like to write your story, contact The Journal. We’ll help you polish it up, so don’t worry, let’s just get to sharing.

This month’s author is 18-year-old Marc Singer, of Marlboro, a senior in the Colts Neck High School NJROTC Program. Marc started out an average student and has become a standout cadet. He was awarded scholarships by the Army and the Navy and will be attending the US Military Academy at West Point. This Memorial Day, we celebrate the devotion, discipline and selfless dedication of our great military. New generations of brave men and women continue in the honorable traditions each year, living by the high standards embraced by the military. They make many sacrifices to honor our country and protect our rights and freedoms. Marc made those choices, and he inspires us all to work hard and push ourselves. Here is Marc’s story.

A couple weeks ago, I was on line in a store when I ran into a middle school friend I had not seen in four years. I am a member of the Colts Neck High School NJROTC. I attend Colts Neck High School, a separation from my previous education, which had all taken place in my hometown schools. As I talked with this old friend, I began to realize that he did not recognize me whatsoever. Being the little bit of the jokester that I am, I played along and purposely kept my name from the conversation. We talked about our college aspirations, high school success, small talk, etc. Finally, my friend took a double take, and said “Are you Marc Singer?” I smiled and shook my head. My friend was starstruck. “You are so different,” he said. “What have you been doing?” 

The truth was I was turning my life around without myself even realizing it. When I entered high school, I was what you would consider a typical middle school boy – a little chubby, squeaky voice, socially awkward – we all know what I’m talking about. But I had an end goal. Despite the bulging stomach and shy demeanor, I knew deep down that I was going to join the military when I grew up. I just had a long, long way to go.

Obviously, the Colts Neck High School NJROTC was the logical next step. It’s a paramilitary program that is known for greatness. Carried by my good grades and preparation granted to me by local police officers, I successfully navigated the admission process. On my first day, I felt like I was hit by a bus. I could not handle the physical training, and the drill team seemed very intense. I worried that this program was not for me, and my desired career was not meant to be. But there is one thing I have not told you up until this point. From the day I was born, my parents have given me a no-quit attitude. Life may be hard, but that is not an excuse. You either live life as it takes you, or you do everything in your power to take control of your life and achieve your desired outcomes. I chose the second option.

Despite being out of shape, I came to every physical training practice I could. I pushed through the heavy breathing and aching to improve. Drill required me to be outspoken and skilled, and I was definitely far from that, but I strove to improve. I pushed myself past new boundaries every day. Slowly but surely, I worked on expanding my comfort zone and building my confidence. 

Eventually, that passion culminated when Major Greg Penczak approached me about the national competition. The chubby eighth-grade kid I once knew had transformed into a lean ninth-grader, whose dedication to the physical training team had enabled him to advance not only faster than he thought he could but faster than his peers. After performing considerably well, I was asked to travel with Colts Neck’s national competing team. It’s an honor few freshmen achieve. In only a few months, dedication coupled with an incredible group of instructors and mentors transformed my life and led to me adopting a brand new lifestyle, and it was only the beginning.

My dedication never quit, and I continued to grow as an individual, earning major achievements frequently. Eventually, it led to one of the greatest honors of my life: becoming the Battalion Command Master Chief of the Colts Neck High School NJROTC. It’s hard to believe anyone could have has so much development in four short years.

So what does my story teach? I was a boy when I entered the NJROTC, far from reaching any of my future aspirations. I could have sat back and watched time fade along with my dreams, but with my no-quit attitude, I took the reins of my life and led myself on the path I desired, never looking back.

NJROTC has certainly changed my life, and it has gotten me closer to my desired career path. My efforts, in my opinion, were stellar, and the United States Military Academy at West Point agreed. The average boy of four short years ago now had the privilege of attending the most prestigious academy in the world. You can all do the same.

We all have the opportunity to achieve success, but much of it is due to the noble sacrifice of our United States Military. As Memorial Day approaches, please take the time to reflect and honor those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of granting us all a nation in which we are free. While we enjoy our long weekend, it is only right that we also remember the many who gave everything for us to live another day.