The student news publication of Libertyville High School

On Point for West Point

February 19, 2016


Photo from Wikipedia/CC

West Point is known for placing a high standard on academic excellence, integrity, and leadership.

While many students opt for the traditional college experience, a select few choose a very different path. This fall, seniors William Johnson and Paul Manfredini will be marching to the drum of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

One of the five service academies in the United States, West Point is among the most selective, having an acceptance rate of nine percent.

West Point prides itself for molding young men into confident leaders capable of succeeding in any field they pursue, but before they venture into future careers, cadets are obligated to serve as active service duty members for five years. However, many cadets choose to make their career in the military.

Manfredini intends to stay in the military after the minimum years required, but the journey to West Point started long before this year. Both of Manfredini’s grandfathers were in the army, so the tradition of military school was always present in the family.

“My dad told me about [military school] in 8th grade. He said, ‘You know, if you want to do something with the military, there’s these service schools — we got Army, Navy, Air Force,’ and then I went home that night and researched them. From that day on, I knew I wanted to go to West Point and nothing else,” Manfredini stated.

Throughout high school, Manfredini participated in three camps relating to military service. He went to a camp specialized for the Navy in Annapolis, the Air Force in Colorado, and the Army at West Point Academy. This fall at West Point, he will be participating in their program specifically for the Air Force. Although Manfredini’s major is undecided, he is interested in either defense and strategic studies or engineering.

Along with Manfredini, Johnson also plans on attending West Point this fall. Johnson said he has been interested in military school for practically his whole life. He attended military school as a freshman at St. John’s Northwestern Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, where he first heard about West Point from one of his close friends. Although Johnson was a bit apprehensive about attending military school because it was a boarding school, he thought that it would be a great experience and wanted to see if he liked the environment the school had.

Johnson also applied to a few other military academies, such as Neal Academy, but chose West Point because of its specialization in land-based military service and their reputation in creating some of the most skilled leaders in the military.

“I really want to be a leader and an officer in the military and I know that there are many different routes and other candidate schools, but West Point is known for developing leaders,” Johnson said.

While going through military training, Johnson is also interested in studying computer science throughout his four years at West Point.

The application process for both Manfredini and Johnson was a bit different than the traditional four-year university. Along with filling out the classic college application their senior year, both seniors had to start the admission process early and fill out a Candidate Questionnaire their junior year, which explained who they were and why they were interested in attending West Point.

They then had to get a nomination from a senator or congressman. Both Manfredini and Johnson were interviewed by Congressman Robert Dold, House of Representatives member representing the 10th congressional district, and got a nomination from him. The final step of the application process was to take a Candidate Fitness Assessment, a medical exam, and submit their scores for the ACT with writing or the SAT.

As fall rapidly approaches, Manfredini and Johnson will encounter some of the most intense and debilitating months of their lives. However, Manfredini and Johnson both believe that the hours of tiresome training and lack of freedoms will be worth it in the end.

“It’s my turn to do something. We’re very lucky with our privileged lives here. I just want to help out,” Manfredini exclaimed.

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    Monica ManfrediniFeb 21, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Wow! What an interesting article. It would be really outstanding and great motivation for other students considering service academies if this was published in the hard copy. I always pick up a hard copy at the high school as I’m sure most people do and I feel this is something that should be written up. This is such a unique story that two students were selected to go to West Point. I believe the last time this happened was in the 80’s.
    Monica Manfredini