Rising high school seniors experience West Point at SLE
By Michelle Eberhart
One thousand rising high school seniors were given the opportunity of a lifetime as they participated in the Summer Leader Experience (SLE) at West Point from May 28-June 10.
Separated into two weeklong sessions of 500 cadet candidates each week, the high school juniors got to see if the U.S. Military Academy was the right pick for them. Not only do the cadet candidates go through a vigorous application process, but after applying to the program, they must be selected among 6,000 other candidates.
Ultimately, 1,000 are selected to participate in the experience.
“They’re really getting a broad overview of what it means to be a cadet and some of the training that we do here,” Class of 2017 Cadet Jonah Mills said. “They’re all moving into their senior year in high school and this is an experience to see if this is for them.”
Throughout the week, the cadets are exposed to an intensive West Point experience including academic courses, physical instruction and military training.
“They’re seeing the academic side for the first three days of the week and then Thursday we have Military Day and we’re out at Camp Buckner and they’re doing real field training,” Mills said. “We’ve been doing PT during the week so in the mornings we wake up and do the physical training, we work out, we do a run, so they’ve kind of seen all three sides of West Point—the military side, the physical side and the academics.”
By the end of the week, the cadet candidates usually have made up their minds.
“West Point is my number one choice right now,” rising high school senior Isabella Montanaro said. “I’ve always been in love with the whole idea of serving and being in the military. Coming here, I’m sold! I love it.”
Montanaro said that coming to West Point gave her a heads-up on what to expect when applying or coming for R-Day. She also said that she’s been granted some new opportunities.