I’m Not Marching Anymore

The Oakland Military Institute Marching Band

by Bonita Tindle

Drills, precision, pomp, marching. Juan Rios quickly grew tired of it all at Oakland Military Institute.

“I thought I’d  find discipline,” says Rios, who transferred this year to McClymonds. “Instead, the experience was dull, dry, isolating.”

Green plastic strips added to the fence separated the school from the outside, making it impossible to see out or peek in. Rios’ jet black jackets with epaulettes, white button-up shirts and black dress pants had to be ironed perfectly.

“I hated wearing the uniform. They didn’t make the uniform in my size; it was tight fitting,” he says.

Unlike students at Mack, who have a choice in staying after-school,  OMI students were forced to participate in after-school programs –mainly tutoring, leaders of character and sports.

At Mack, Rios, 16 and a sophomore,  has more choices, participating in debate and journalism. He also can wear whatever clothes he wants.

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