The cadets are here: Students return to MMA for new school year

HARLINGEN — The boys are back in town.

More than 100 young men from across the country and around the world checked in at Marine Military Academy yesterday to start a new school year.

MMA expects to have a total headcount of 250 by the first day of school on Aug. 16. For new students and returning cadets alike, MMA will be both their school and home for the next nine months.

At least half of the students who checked in yesterday will be classified as “plebes.”

Plebes, or new students who did not attend MMA Summer Camp, must go through four weeks of introductory training before becoming official members of the MMA Corps of Cadets.

Once plebes bid their parents goodbye, they immediately start their training and receive a headshaving.

In addition to adjusting to a new school and a life away from home, a plebe must quickly learn the military regimen, rules and regulations, drill, uniforms and proper dress, Marine Corps history and much more.

On the weekends, plebes head to a highly physical training complex called the MMA Back 40 and participate in numerous outdoor challenges, such as rappelling, high wall climbing and mud crawling.

Whether a boy is a plebe or cadet, the daily routine at MMA is significantly more demanding than an average day school or boarding school. MMA students wake up at 6 a.m. and follow a 16-hour schedule that includes morning exercise, classes, tutorials, sports or activities, and an evening study time — a schedule that keeps them well occupied until they go to bed at 10 p.m.

MMA students also live in a distraction-free environment. They may only leave the campus on the weekends, and they may only use their mobile phones on the weekends.

MMA is located at 320 Iwo Jima Blvd., next to Valley International Airport.