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 The graduates and enlistees, from left, are  Christian DeMetsenare (U.S. Marine Corps), Conner Johnson (U.S. Army), Aaron King (U.S. Marine Corps), Jacob Simkus (U.S. Navy)  and Caleb Smith (U.S. Army).

The graduates and enlistees, from left, are Christian DeMetsenare (U.S. Marine Corps), Conner Johnson (U.S. Army), Aaron King (U.S. Marine Corps), Jacob Simkus (U.S. Navy) and Caleb Smith (U.S. Army).

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Five Hazel Park High graduates to enlist in military

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 19, 2020

 During a special ceremony at the war memorial in front of Hazel Park City Hall June 6, five Hazel Park High graduates with the class of 2020 are honored for their decision to enlist in the military.

During a special ceremony at the war memorial in front of Hazel Park City Hall June 6, five Hazel Park High graduates with the class of 2020 are honored for their decision to enlist in the military.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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HAZEL PARK — Officials in the Hazel Park Public Schools are celebrating the decision of five Hazel Park High School graduates with the class of 2020 to enlist in the military.

“Prior to the pandemic, Michigan’s unemployment was slightly greater than the national unemployment rate. The result of the pandemic reinforced the economic uncertainty for these graduates and many others,” said Edward Fisher, HPPS director of human resources, in a statement. “By enlisting, these five patriotic graduates locked in the next three to four years, facing uncertainty head-on without reservation, committing to the military well before they graduated high school.”

The five graduates are Christian DeMetsenare, joining the U.S. Marine Corps; Conner Johnson, joining the U.S. Army; Aaron King, joining the U.S. Marine Corps; Jacob Simkis, joining the U.S. Navy; and Caleb Smith, joining the U.S. Army.

The group was honored in a special ceremony in front of the war memorial at Hazel Park City Hall the morning of June 6, on what was the 76th anniversary of D-Day.

“It is one thing to set out on your own to begin a new job or to go to school. It is another to go protect your country,” said HPPS Superintendent Amy Kruppe. “We are incredibly proud to have these gentlemen graduate from Hazel Park and venture out in the world, protecting us. We were so excited to give them an honorable sendoff, as there is not a more respectable path they could have taken. We wish them well and will be watching their careers flourish.”

Christian’s stepmother, Nikki DeMetsenare, of Hazel Park, said Christian will first put in three months at boot camp. Christian’s biological mother, Milisa Sisco, died in 2009.

“I am incredibly proud of him, and I know Milisa … would be, too,” Nikki said. “Yet I am sad that he will be going away, not knowing how long before we see him again.”

Christian said his military career had been a long time coming.

“When I was asked in kindergarten (what I wanted to be when I grow up), the military was the first thing I came up with,” he recalled.

For Conner, his interest in the military dates back to middle school.

“I had the interest to serve in the armed forces as far back as seventh grade, as careers were pressed onto us in our classes. Video games were definitely the gateway to the military,” Conner said. “It wasn’t until the beginning of 11th grade where college completely lost my interest and my grades hindered my chances of getting into a decent university. My choice then was which branch I wanted to enlist into. My army recruiter hooked me in with the talk of an enlistment bonus for jobs I had in mind. Other recruiters at the recruitment center told me of their adventures, which persuaded me even more.”

Conner next goes to basic training, departing June 30 for Fort Benning in Georgia. His great-grandfather had served in World War II, deployed in North Africa.

“When Conner first told me about his desire to join the armed forces, I was very nervous, but after many conversations with Conner and his recruiters, I became much more comfortable with the decision,” said Kimberly, Conner’s mother. “I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments and his decision to serve our country.”

Fisher said that there is so much to learn in the service.

“They will learn values that probably should be more common among our population, such as loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, requiring them to live up to the standards of those that carried the torch before them,” Fisher said. “Of course, we are proud of our graduates and their willingness to serve our nation, but we are also eager to witness the potential that this experience will give each of these graduates later in life and how the military will have transformed them from where they are today to what they will become tomorrow.”

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