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Reviewing the Pentagon/Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (Part 2)




The Pentagon/Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall duty station and its surrounding area (the DMV region) is home to a high military population, making it an excellent place for service members and their dependents. The activities to do, the community, climate and geography, academics, and the duty station itself prove why I loved this place. In this two-part article, I've included information about the subject topics listed above, as well as recommendations and suggestions for individuals moving to/near this station or for anyone simply curious about the duty station.


If you haven't read part one yet, including information about the activities, the community, and the climate and geography, make sure to check it out!


Academics


The academics (particularly in certain schools) is on the more intense side of schools.


School districts are generally well-run with many courses to choose from. Many schools have the option to take courses off-campus or during summer, which is great if you come from a place with extremely different academic requirements or need to retake a class. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia offers Career Technical Pathways, allowing for the exploration of STEM and possible careers through nursing, surgery, and dentistry classes. Languages like Vietnamese, French, Latin, and Russian are available through other schools. JROTC is a class at many local high schools, further connecting the military community.


Schools often enrich the learning experience through field trips and experiences that include overnight trips to different states/countries. My school took a trip to New York City to watch Broadway shows and traveled to perform at choral competitions. The arts programs are notable with many students participating in ensembles like the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.


You can find a class for anything and dual enrollment/off-campus courses are common. Many schools have upwards of 50 clubs ranging from those focusing on molecular biology to philosophy to Model UN. I have never experienced so many options and programs, all helping me define my interests and allowing me to make friends. This is a great opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and explore new topics.


However, this academic environment is extremely competitive, leading to a lot of stress. Academic expectations are high, and teachers often teach material beyond the state standards. While homework is manageable, many students have competitive extracurriculars, spreading themselves thin. Despite thriving and enjoying competing with their peers, the uber-competitive element often leads to toxicity between classmates. Particularly in gifted programs, students compare themselves to others and compete by accelerating through classes and taking as many AP/IB/honors classes as possible. Much of this starts at an early age as students compete to gain admission to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the #1 high school in the United States.


Competitiveness and intensity are a core part of many local schools, but as long as you find a good group of friends and balance classes and extracurriculars, you will get a strong education and a fulfilling school life.


I have also discovered that many students are friendly and eager to talk about topics they are passionate about, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and meet new people. While the pressure was intense at times, I think that it, combined with passionate individuals, really allowed me to push myself academically, benefiting me later on. Your counselor can help you choose balanced classes and offer advice on how to meet graduation requirements and transfer documents/credits so that you don’t have to fall into the unfortunate pitfall of restarting your high school credits (schools are understanding about the common education dilemmas due to the large military population).


Looking back, I enjoyed my time as a student in the DMV region, even with the competitiveness, and ended up learning a lot through different classes and experiencing various events through my school.


The Duty Station(s)


The Pentagon is obviously not a residential duty station, but you can see the inside of it through newly resumed Pentagon tours. It's worthwhile to see the inside of the United States military headquarters.


Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has all the usual amenities of a duty station - PX, commissary, restaurants, a clinic, housing, a bank, a library, and more. There is a lounge with a gaming center, workspace, and theater. You can also find a pool and gym open to the community. This base is the home of the Pentagram, the military newspaper written by service members and delivered to the Pentagon, military installations, and offices in the area.


The Arlington National Cemetery Honor Guard, Continental Color Guard, U.S. Army Drill Team, and the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” all call Joint Base Meyer-Henderson home. Finally, it often hosts many community activities, so be sure to check its website for information on free and fun programs.


My Final Thoughts


Overall, the Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia region surprised me more than I like to admit. I thought it would be stuffy history and endless trees, and while the part about the trees was true, I was never bored exploring this duty station and its surrounding areas. I found a welcoming community that allowed me to push myself, explore my passions, and challenge myself academically. I met interesting new people who changed my perspective a lot. The DMV region really allowed me to have a full reset of my life and experience new things through the support of the local milteen community. Despite its shortcomings, I genuinely enjoyed my time there and was really sad to move.


I would rate this duty station a 9/10. This duty station influenced who I am as a person and gave me a unique experience that many other duty stations do not offer. It was truly a memorable experience and I'm excited to visit the DMV region this summer! Make the most out of your time here Bloomers because you’ll miss it later!


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