Firstie Year

Cadets in their final year at West Point are called "Firsties" or "First Class Cadets."

Firstie Year

Cadets in their final year at West Point are called "Firsties" or "First Class Cadets."

Senior. First Class. Firstie. The final year at West Point is an eventful one. You will recieve your class ring, find out your first Army assignment and duty station, will have laid the groundwork for lifelong relationships, and finally toss your white service cap into the endless Michie Stadium sky celebrating graduation. It will be bittersweet and will fly by. This final year will develop heightened levels of pride, confidence, and a unique understanding of the selfless-service of your upcoming career as a U.S. Army Officer. 

Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT)

Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT), otherwise known as ML300, is a 4-week training program that typically occurs the summer before your Firstie year (although 20% of cadets complete it as a Cow). The training assesses your leadership abilities while conducting platoon operations using three focus areas: leading under stress, tactical problem solving, and individual technical proficiency. The taxing event culminates with a 12-day / 10-night field problem. 

Ring Weekend

The Ring Ceremony recognizes First Class cadets and celebrates their accomplishment of reaching their senior year. This milestone in your cadet tenure signifies your prodigious commitment to join the Long Gray Line on Graduation Day. After a ceremony where the First Class cadets are told to “Don Rings!” Fourth Class cadets will regale them with the “Ring Poop,” a poem designed to cajole the ring-wearer to let the plebes see and touch their new rings. 

For the remainder of the year, the ring serves as a constant reminder of the work left to be accomplished and leading them toward commissioning. It also signifies a cadet’s past, present and future, both at the academy and impending endeavors in the Army and beyond. Before Graduation, a Class Ring is worn with the Class Crest facing inward, toward the heart, focusing the wearer on their class and current obligations and events. After Graduation, the Academy Crest is worn closest to the heart to remind a graduate of their time at the Academy. A West Point class ring is much more than a piece of jewelry, it is the connection to the Corps and the Long Gray Line for all eternity – symbolic of a graduate’s devotion to Duty, Honor, Country.  

Branch Night

Branch Night is a much-anticipated evening in November/December at Eisenhower Hall when you and your classmates find out which branch of the U.S. Army you will serve in. Your branch determines, to a large extent, what job or career field you experience as an Army Officer. Once the Director of Military instruction (DMI 6) tells the Firsties to “Open Envelopes,” everyone tears open their respective envelopes to see if they received their top choice, with excitement and celebration to follow regardless of the outcome. The “First Brass” of their new branch insignia is provided by their 50-year Affiliate Class, another example of the continuing heritage within the profession of arms. 

100th Night and 100th Night Show

It can be described as a “rite of passage,” and as far back as 1871, the Firstie Class at the U.S. Military Academy has annually gathered to celebrate its 100 days until graduation. The 100th Night Show is a full-stage musical production written by the class that usually takes a creative and humorous look back at their almost four-year experience at the Academy. The performances can include lighthearted, playful jeers at faculty members who left profound impressions, West Point traditions, specific events, predicaments, and the typical lifestyle of cadets making their rounds through the academy as they work toward graduation. 

The 100th Night Banquet is held in the Cadet Mess Hall and typically includes a guest speaker and attendees in formal civilian attire. Overall, 100th Night Weekend is more than just the banquet and show, it is your class coming together to celebrate, reflect on your accomplishments and heartaches, but also taking the time to breathe before the final 100 days move at warp speed. 

Post Night

Post Night occurs midway through your final semester at the Academy. On this night you and your classmates from your assigned branch will assemble to take part in a “draft” of sorts for your first Army post/duty assignment. Each cadet in your branch will be called upon in class rank order to take their pick of the remaining billets at Army posts around the world. Your post not only determines where you will be moving after graduation, but the type of unit you will first be assigned to. The evening is full of excitement, anticipation, frantic phone calls between friends in different branches trying to get the same post, and plenty of celebration when it’s all over. 


Originally known as June Week (because Graduation happened in early or mid-June), Graduation Week and Graduation is filled with events to recognize graduating cadets in their last week before becoming a commissioned officer. Cadets honor the Long Gray Line with an Alumni Wreath-laying and Cadet Review, cadet company achievements are highlighted at Regimental Superintendent’s Receptions, Academic Departments honor cadets with awards and service, and the Graduation Parade and Graduation Banquet are held the day before Graduation.  In between all these events First Class cadets are packing, planning post-Graduation leave, and visiting with classmates who have shared their experiences for the past four years. Finally, in Michie Stadium the Cadet First Captain will order, “Class Dismissed!” and white hats will fly into the air and the newest graduates will ask, “How long until I can say I am an ‘Old Grad?’”