Photo by Corinne Nicholson
BUFORD -- While Sebastian Armellini is in boot camp, he'll complete the training knowing he's got the support of several elementary school students.
Armellini, a Marine recruit, has been "adopted" by some fourth-graders at White Oak Elementary School. The students, who are in Nancy Fuhrman's class, will write letters to Armellini while he is in U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training at Parris Island, S.C. Once he finishes the 13-week cycle of training, they plan to send him care packages.
"We're ready to see it through inception to wherever his travels go," said Milinda Bell, a parent who came up with the idea for the class to adopt Armellini.
Bell, who served in the Navy, met the 19-year-old Armellini at The Home Depot while she was checking out. When she learned the North Gwinnett High School graduate was joining the Marines, she asked if he would come speak to her daughter's class.
"It was a very strange feeling," Armellini said of learning he was being adopted by the fourth-graders. "I was excited about it, but I was quite surprised."
Earlier this month, Armellini and his Marine recruiter, Sgt. Brian Wesley, visited the class and talked to students about the Marine Corps. Wesley, who has served for seven years, talked about topics such as uniforms and saluting and shared stories about his travels.
Fuhrman said meeting Armellini will make the experience of writing letters to him more personal for the children.
"I think it's going to be fabulous just tracking him and watching his growth as he becomes a Marine," she said.
Armellini said he'll have to earn the honor of becoming a Marine during the Recruit Training, which ends with a 54-hour field training exercise known as "The Crucible," which simulates typical combat situations with strenuous testing, hardship, and the deprivation of food and sleep.
"I've always wanted to serve my country," he said. "... It's always been a passion of mine to help others."