Home Away From Home

NPHS student's life on a military base


Priscila Mondragon

Junior Isabella Whitney poses for a photo in front of NPHS.

One moment you’re on an island looking at the Philippine Sea and the next you’re in the small town of North Platte. Just a month ago junior, Isabella Whitney returned to the states from Okinawa, Japan after spending six years on a military base. 

The 16-year-old spent six years in Japan on Kadena Air Base while her dad finished his Marine Corps career before retiring this year. When Neil Whitney, Isabella’s father retired, it forced his family to move off the base.

Whitney’s normal day in Japan wasn’t as different as one might imagine. “I would wake up at 5:30 a.m. since school started at 7:15, and go through my seven period classes,” she said. Extracurricular activities were also provided for the students going to school. “After school I would go to practice, which I was involved in cross country and soccer,” Whitney said.

 Having an education was important to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. “Every class was taught at an advanced level,” Whitney said. The high school she went to had 500-600 students. They were taught by the Department of Defense

Living overseas meant Whitney and her family had to follow Japan’s laws.“We weren’t allowed to drive off base until we were 18,” Whitney said. Also, “We were allowed to leave the base, but there were curfews. You couldn’t be off base after 12 a.m. or you would get in lots of trouble and possibly arrested,” Whitney said. According to Whitney, everything was closely watched by the Kadena Disciplinary Program where every kid was closely watched over. 

I’ve experienced a lot during my childhood and I can’t wait to see what I can experience being here in North Platte”

— Isabella Whitney

“I lived on a small island that only had a 75 mile radius,” Whitney said. “So when I had the chance I would leave the base and go shopping with my friends or go to the beach,” Whitney said. To leave the military base, you needed a military ID to re-enter.

The transition to North Platte was a huge change for Isabella‘s family. From everything Whitney saw what stood out to Isabella was the kindness of the people in Japan. “Growing up and learning lessons during your teen years on a military base can really shape who you are. Being in Okinawa made me more accepting of different cultures since I went to school with people from so many different cultures,” said Whitney.

At North Platte High School, Isabella has made new friends and joined the cross country team. “I’ve experienced a lot during my childhood and I can’t wait to see what I can experience being here in North Platte,” said Whitney.