By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thanksgiving is homecoming for lots of kids away from college, but the experience is a little different for one group of students.

Last year, Benilde-St. Margaret’s sent five of its graduating students to military academies. Usually a school would send none, one or two at the most.

Sitting back in their old school’s library, they spoke about the past five months.

“You just always have to have it turned on,” U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Maria Satre said. “You have your ‘sirs’ and ‘ma’ams’ going.”

“I’m really surprised by the lack of sleep we get,” U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Carston Swenson said.

“When you’re doing a workout and you’re carrying someone for a long time, and your back wants to break off, you just keep going because you know at the end of the day, why you’re doing it,” U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Lauren McDonnell said.

Four of the five students are at the Naval Academy, while U.S. Army Cadet Jack Boase is at West Point.

“West Point specifically appealed to me because of its honesty and its honor code ,and everything about it really wowed me,” he said.

The days can start at 5:15 a.m. with a morning workout, then breakfast, formation, class, lunch, class athletics, dinner, studying and finally, lights out.

So do they like it?

“Depends on when you ask me,” Jack said. “It’s very fulfilling, but there are times when it’s difficult.”

“I’ve known my friends for 140 days now, and they’re already some of my best friends for life,” Carston said. “I know I’m going to be lifelong friends with them.”

They’re serving for different reasons — Sean’s dad is a police officer, while Maria’s brother graduated from the Naval Academy last year.

“I just wanted to do something for my country,” Lauren said. “I wanted to be the best person I could be.”

All of them will head to Philadelphia next weekend for the Army-Navy football game.

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