Although the two are separated by an ocean, the relationship between Georgia Military College Prep School and England’s Royal Hospital School (RHS) continues flourish.
For a third year, a group of GMC Prep students spent a portion of their summers living the life of RHS cadets and this now marks the second year the Eastern England school has returned the favor, giving students on both sides of the pond opportunities to experience the others’ culture.
This opportunity was created thanks to a relationship forged about five years ago between GMC President Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV and Col. Andy Jackson, who at the time was the British liaison officer at Ft. Benning and father to two RHS cadets. Conversation turned into action, and now GMC Prep and RHS students have unique immersive experiences that will certainly serve as positives on their college applications.
Located in Suffolk County, the Royal Hospital School is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school for kids 11 to 18 years old. Like GMC Prep, RHS cadets’ educational journeys are enriched by military activities. RHS was founded in 1712 in Greenwich, London before being moved to its current 200-acre site in 1933.
Two GMC groups took the eight-hour flight to London over the summer, one getting 30-day trip while the other enjoyed a shorter 10-day stay. While there, they took in the sights of a different country and also lived the day-to-day life of a boarding school cadet. During their trip, GMC Prep’s cadets spent a night aboard the HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship) Bristol, a destroyer built for the British Royal Navy that now serves as a training ship. They also toured the HMS Victory, a vessel that originally took to the seas in the 18th century. The ship now stands on a dry dock where she now serves as a museum visited by 25 million people.
Some GMC students got a very different experience related to life on the seas as they took on the Royal Navy’s sinking ship simulator.
“Basically we put drysuits on and were put in freezing cold water in an enclosed space,” said GMC senior Alex Fricke. “They had us hammer wood into holes to try and seal up the ship.”
It was unanimous among Fricke and all other cadets involved in the exercise that they hope the skills learned in the simulator will never need to be called upon again.
In talking about the differences between GMC Prep and the Royal Hospital School, GMC senior Abby Greer said she very much enjoyed the British school’s college-like atmosphere.
“They have so many options and choices with their classes,” Greer said. “You get to choose what classes you want to do to fit your future. I thought that was really cool.”
While both schools offer military activities to their respective students, the GMC cadets pointed out that the military lifestyle is more engrained at RHS.
“It was more military-based, I think,” said GMC Prep junior Carson Smith. “Their cadet corps is a lot more involved than our regular JROTC.”
“Here it’s all about leadership, there it’s about growing towards being in the service,” added Smith’s classmate Jackson Miller.
On the flip side, four RHS cadets — Morgan Thomas, Helena Exley, Fred Hitchen, and Jack Burgess — have been living in GMC’s Baugh Barracks for about the past month. Since coming to the United States the year 13 (the British equivalent of being a senior) students have attended baseball games, visited Six Flags, and even thrown out the first pitch at a GMC Prep home softball game. They’ve also gotten well-acquainted with the history of Milledgeville by taking the famous trolley tour, and of course no history of Georgia’s Antebellum Capital is complete without learning about Central State Hospital.
“That was so fun,” said Thomas. “I take psychology, so learning about Central State was really beneficial for me.”
This year’s exchange between the two schools will come to a close Monday as the four RHS cadets are scheduled to fly back to England — a trip many of the GMC students took and are hoping to take again.