Sea cadets receive hands-on look at restaurant operations

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If you happened to be in downtown Quitman March 13 you may have seen several uniformed cadets buzzing around busily in and out of Your Appetites on N. Main Street.

Your Appetites owner Ingrid Hightower opened the doors of her business operation, from running the cash register to baking in the kitchen, for young people from throughout North Texas involved in the Sea Cadet program.

The program is run through Hood National Guard Armory in Tyler. The cadets involved in the program in Quitman ranged from middle school to high school age. 

The cadets were in culinary training during their spring break time from their respective school districts. Sergeant Gena Dry, who is from Lindale, was the commander of the cadets for their time at Your Appetites.

“This is the US Navy Sea Cadet program and it’s sponsored by the US Navy and the Navy League. It is for kids 11 to 18,” Dry said. “We have two different programs; the first is for the younger kids 11 to 13. They come in and learn the ways of the Navy and customs, military uniform. They move up to the Sea Cadet program where there are more learning opportunities. Our unit from Tyler drills once a month, just like the military, every third weekend of the month at the Hood Armory. They work toward their goals, rank up and go to advanced trainings.

“What we are doing here is an advanced training. These six cadets are doing culinary training. They are learning operations of restaurant management and basic cooking techniques,” Dry noted. “Today we are here to see how a real kitchen works. They came in on Sunday, March 8 and graduate tomorrow morning (March 14).”

Hightower was happy to have the cadets at her business. “They have been doing very, very good. I would take them all full-time if I could,” Hightower added.

Dry was appreciative of Hightower, “Ingrid came out to our facility earlier this week and shared a lot of techniques in our kitchen and offered to for us to come here today.”

The Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) is comprised of two programs, the Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC) and the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. The junior cadet program is for ages 11-13. The NLCC and the senior program for ages 13-17. The programs are different, but vary in training sessions which are age-appropriate.

Cadet Colby Hendricks of Aubrey was enjoying the training. “I want to be in the Navy someday and I really enjoy everything about the program. We learn so much about many different things we can use in our daily lives, not just in the future,” Hendricks said.

This junior cadet program introduces its members to naval life through instruction in basic seamanship and leadership. NLCC members are able to participate in monthly drill sessions and during school breaks and in a one-week orientation class as well as in specially-designed annual training sessions. 

The purpose of the NLCC program is to prepare its cadets for success upon entering NSCC by exposing them to the fundamentals of seamanship and leadership. The training program is less arduous than NSCC’s but still includes a wide variety of away-from-home, one-week training opportunities designed to give cadets exposure to Navy life. 

The senior cadet program exposes its cadets to the full rigors of a military training program. Cadets are required to attend a mandatory two-week recruit training camp. After this requirement is met, cadets are eligible to participate in a variety of advanced training sessions. These sessions serve to expose cadets to seamanship and seagoing subjects. They also focus on developing an appreciation for our country’s rich naval history, customs and traditions.

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