Bob Nobles and Cornell Wright might not have a chance to serve their country when they are adults. No matter: They are serving it now.
“Good morning, Young Marines,” barked 1st Sgt. Vivian Price-Butler, greeting Bob and Cornell and eight other boys Friday morning in her small classroom at Kennedy Krieger High School.
“Good morning, First Sergeant,” they replied in unison, standing straight and still.
The Young Marines is an education and service program reaching 10,000 youths around the nation and overseas. Of its more than 300 units, only one is dedicated to students with special needs.
Founded in 1993, the Kennedy Krieger program serves 24 students at a high school for children who cannot be accommodated in traditional schools. Bob, a 16-year-old sophomore from New Windsor, has autism. Cornell, a 17-year-old junior from Glendale, has an intellectual disability. Other students have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or brain injuries.
Price-Butler, known affectionately as First Sergeant around the Baltimore school, is not a trained teacher. Yet, 10 or 20 years from now, she is the Kennedy Krieger educator most likely to be getting e-mails and baby pictures from Bob and Cornell and the other Young Marines.