Dent celebrates students heading for service academies
Congressman Charlie Dent, R-15th, recently had his 12th annual send-off reception for high school students from his district who will be attending a U.S. service academy.
Andrew Posch of Bethlehem Catholic High School, Reilly McGinnis of Emmaus High School, Tyler Herber of Hamburg High School, Jayden Demmy of Cedar Cliff High School, and Karl Van Blargan of Hershey High School will be attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Serena Johnson of Parkland High School, Konstandinos Zaharakis of Saucon Valley High School, Jacob Hedrick of Hershey High School, Caleb Vargo of Bishop McDevitt High School, Andrew Waldron and Michael Schnabel of Allentown Central Catholic High School and Jason Kushy of Emmaus High School are headed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Vincent James Jenkins of Liberty High School will be attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.
“U.S. Service Academy applicants need to complete two applications,” said Melanie Whiteleather, Congressman Dent’s director of service academy nominations. “An application to the particular academy of interest to them, and one for a Congressional nomination, which is required by law.”
Dent has an academy selection committee that helps with the nomination process.
“I tell every applicant seeking a nomination I sincerely appreciate their interest in serving our country,” Dent said.
“We have never interviewed a bad student. Typically, our district sends 10 to 20 students a year.”
“This reception is a way for my staff and I to say thank you to the students for their willingness to serve.
“We are blessed to have this fine group of young people who are going to represent the future leadership of the U.S. armed forces.”
“We all know these students will make outstanding officers.
“I want to thank the students, their parents and families, my staff, and the academy selection committee. Members of the committee voluntarily participate, and interview the service academy candidates. I take their recommendations very seriously. They believe each of you are worthy for your selected service academy.” Dent gave each student a Congressional Challenge Coin.
Schnabel applied to the naval academy because his dad was in the Navy and his brother graduated from the academy last year.
“For anyone considering applying in the future, I suggest they get the application done before their senior year and try to reach out to their blue-and-gold officer,” Schnabel said. “A blue-and-gold officer is a liaison the naval academy provides to help applicants. I am very happy to be at this reception and meet some of the other students who will be in my class at the naval academy.”
“I applied to the naval academy because I felt in sync with it on a moral, mental, and physical level,” Johnson said. “It is a place that offers a great chance for me to improve my character. I was also recruited to be on their diving team. I believe the academics there are stellar.”
“I am very grateful for Congressman Dent’s nomination.
“Future naval academy applicants should work hard academically, and take time to learn something new each day. Staying in good physical shape is also important.”
“I am excited to be here with Congressman Dent and appreciate receiving his nomination,” Zaharakis said. “I have wanted to go into the Navy since eighth grade and believe the naval academy is a great way to enter as an officer.
“Future applicants should make sure they are doing exactly what the admission requirements ask of them, and get their application completed early.
“I always had a dream to serve my country and to do it by becoming an officer at a service academy,” Vargo said. “I felt the naval academy is the best place I can excel.”
“Applying to the academy took a lot of time and commitment, I tried to embrace the process,” Vargo said. “I visited the campus on a candidate visit weekend and participated in one of the naval academy’s summer seminar experiences. It is an honor to be at the recognition ceremony and I am thankful for everything Congressman Dent has helped me do.”
Posch then spoke about West Point.
“Everything about West Point excites me,” Posch said. “I look forward to becoming an officer in the army. Future West Point applicants should develop a strong character, work hard in school, be physically fit, and be a good person. It is an honor to be recognized by Congressman Dent and I truly appreciate his nomination.”
“Future applicants for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy should be well-rounded,” Jenkins said. “They should get involved with clubs and activities and keep their academics in check.”
“The Merchant Marine Academy is the service academy least applied to, but definitely worth checking out,” Jenkins said. “I truly appreciate Congressman Dent’s nomination so I can pursue one of the greatest careers in the world. I will attend classes and spend at least a year on a ship. When I graduate, I can be commissioned to any branch of the armed forces.”
“During my sophomore year of high school, the West Point soccer coach started to reach out to me, McGinnis said. “At first, I felt uncertain because I never heard of West Point and it was not anything I was ever exposed to.
“But each time I visited I fell in love with the campus, the people, and everything behind what it means to be a West Point cadet.”
McGinnis suggests future applicants start the application process as soon as they can, and make sure to visit the campus.
“It means a lot to be recognized by Congressman Dent,” McGinnis said. “The other academy students and I went through a long application process, and it is good to see our hard work has paid off.”