Cadet: MMA offers opportunities not found in public schools

Jessica Hirsch

WOODSTOCK –  Massanutten Military Academy cadet Jessica Hirsch has high praise for her school.

The 17-year-old battalion commander from McLean, who will be graduating May 27 along with 23 other cadets,  said MMA has been a good fit for her and has provided her opportunities that public schools couldn’t.

“I felt more independent,” she said. “I felt older than I really was.”

Hirsch said she had so much fun in the Raiders program during her first year that she decided to attend the summer program at the academy and then an additional two years at the school.

She added that the faculty and her fellow cadets made her feel at home and allowed her to succeed.

“Almost every single person here genuinely cares about one another,” she said.

The diversity of the school was another reason she enjoyed her time at the academy.

“You get to meet people who have crazy stories behind them and you don’t get to see that in public school,” she added.

For anyone considering attending the academy she said to take advantage of the structure the school provides “and realize that it’s made up for a reason and it’s not just something they want you to do for fun.”

After graduation she will attend James Madison University and join the ROTC program, with plans to join the U.S. Army afterward.  She added that her time at the academy helped to shape her career plans.  After military service, she said she would like to be a therapist and help veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I know it’s a problem,” she said about PTSD. “It’s an issue that’s out there and it’s very real.”

Hirsch said she feels she will be able to connect with the veterans as a therapist because she will be able to relate to their experiences after having served in the Army herself.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

MMA Graduation

When: 10 a.m. May 27.

Where: MMA’s Harrison Hall courtyard.

Guest speaker: Ronald F. Maxwell, director of “Gods and Generals.”