I am pleased to offer you an appointment to the United States Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 2008.”
It’s 3:16 in the afternoon. You came home as usual from school, checked the mail like you have every day since December—seventy-five days ago–when you finished the application for USNA. And now, here it is. In your hand. You just stare…
“If you accept this appointment, you will receive a ‘Permit to Report to the U.S. Naval Academy’ packet…”
You read the entire letter, and then you reread it, and again. It doesn’t change. It still says, “Congratulations!” After you sit down in shock, stutter your relief and excitement, you fill out the acceptance form and send it by return mail to USNA Admissions. You have no doubt: This will always be where you want to go.
A week later, the Permit to Report package arrives. You must get a dental clearance and x-rays, a police clearance, and a notarized copy of your birth certificate. These simple items become the top priority on your daily To Do schedule: At any moment, you fear they will realize they made a mistake accepting you, and send a rescission. You complete the forms, mail them back and make your reservations for planes and hotels, securing your trip to I-Day.
Working out, preparing for the incogitable—Plebe Summer and beyond—has become part of the day-to-day routine, like IB and calculus. Two to three hours a day—running, biking, weight lifting, more running, push-ups, pull-ups (almost got one), the ladder, more running. You now run faster than you ever did on the cross country team. The motivation becomes personal: You’re doing it for yourself. Like Calculus. You’re still taking AP Biology, AP Calculus, AP Psychology, AP English, Symphony orchestra, but there’s just one class that really matters: Calculus, because you’ll need that as a Plebe at the Naval Academy.
You play your final orchestra concert—Mahler, Shostakovich, and the incomparable Tchaikovsky. PSYO’s last performance acknowledges all seniors, with congratulations and a brief colloquy about summer plans and where they will attend college. One violinist responds, “Notre Dame,” (not exciting anymore to you), a cellist has chosen UCLA, and the pianist plans to travel across the country to Julliard.
You respond, “A Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy”.
Not college, but a job—an avocation, a member of the tightest fraternity in the country, for life. Your proclamation receives an electrifying round of applause from the audience. They recognize a young adult willing to stand up for the country’s beliefs, defend our freedoms.
Afterwards, several parents seek you out. One has a Midshipman son, a Plebe. Another served as a marine for twenty years and wants you to know how proud he remains, and you will become. You thank him for his feedback and tell him how proud you already feel.
The USNA loves Countdown Clocks—I-Day Countdown (forty days and counting) becomes your favorite. Your friend, Jason, emails you as Midshipman Schmidt. You’d buy clothes, but the Navy will provide everything that’s legal to wear.
You prepare a list of items you’d like sent as Care Packages during the ninety days of Plebe Summer. And a second list of items your parents should bring to Plebe Parent Weekend (PPW), representing your graduation from Plebe Summer. At that time, you’ll be permitted personal items, more than the standard Navy issue that matches all other Plebes.
The last thing you do before leaving involves writing a letter to yourself (see Appendix) stating all of the reasons why you chose the Naval Academy, why you wanted to be part of the Armed Services, and affirming all the pre-Plebe emotion—the exhilaration and optimism that washed over you when you joined the Class of 2008. This you seal in an envelope, ready for the day you can’t remember what made you sign on the dotted line and raise your right hand swearing the Oath of Office that donated your next nine years to the Navy.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, will be out this summer. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.