By Ryan Cornell
Out of this year's 205 Warren County High School graduation candidates, 15 have decided to pursue a future in the military.
That's considered a very high number, according to Marine Corps. Staff Sgt. Lance Gray, an assistant station commander in Winchester -- the substation recruits from 22 local high schools and Lord Fairfax Community College.
Following the graduation ceremony on Friday evening, seven seniors are joining the Navy, six are joining the Marines and two are joining the Army.
Gray said that when they recruit, they look for people who represent the core values of courage, honor and commitment, as well as physical standards that include a 1.5 mile run, crunches and pull-ups.
"Most of them just want to serve their country," he said. "The second reason is the education and experience."
The military can offer students a number of benefits to support their education, such as tuition assistance and the GI Bill.
When students join the military, they can receive $4,500 toward their tuition that is renewable each year of college through the tuition assistance program.
They can also get the full cost of their tuition and housing covered for four years at any school they're accepted to through the GI Bill.
Amy Hartley, director of school counseling at Warren County High School, said about 44 percent of the class is headed to two-year or four-year colleges and universities.
"It's been an excellent year," she said. "They've been a great class."
The class includes 18 distinguished honor graduates, who earned a 4.0 cumulative GPA or higher and will wear maroon and gold cords at commencement, and 44 honor graduates, who earned between a 3.5 and 3.99 cumulative GPA and will wear maroon and silver cords.
Hartley said seniors in the class of 2014 have been awarded scholarships including $520,920 from colleges and universities, $8,800 in career and tech awards, $61,871 in local and private awards and $4.26 million in military education packages.
The commencement address will be delivered by Kaegan McCabe.
McCabe, senior class president and distinguished honor graduate, plans to study business at the University of Virginia.
Top students in the class were recognized at an awards ceremony on Thursday night.
The commencement ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Friday on the high school's football field. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the gym.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com