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Service academies accept Cape youths; U.S. institutions name local choices

By Staff | Apr 3, 2008

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, announced Wednesday that 16 students from Southwest Florida have been accepted to attend one the prestigious U.S. service academies.

Each of the local high school graduates received appointments after going through a rigorous selections process requiring a congressional nomination. Students submitted their applications to Mack’s office as well as one of the academies, and a nine-member academy board sifted through the applications to make recommendations for who should be nominated.

While a congressional nomination is needed, it does not guarantee acceptance into one of the academies. Other factors such as evidence of integrity, exceptional academics, leadership qualities, physical fitness and others all play an integral role in the selections process.

Of the 26 students who were nominated by Mack in December, 16 have been accepted to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado or the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point.

The Cape Coral students who were accepted to attend one of the four service academies include Jennifer West, who attends Fort Myers High; Anthony Johnson, who attends North Fort Myers High; Mark Livengood, who attended Fort Myers High; and Bradley Wilkin, who attends Cape Coral High.

According to 17-year-old Wilkin, the entire acceptance process took more than one year. After he graduates in June, he plans on studying mechanical engineering or economics.

“Those are two areas that I’m interested in studying,” he said. “After that I plan on going to flight school and becoming a naval aviator.”

At Cape High, Wilkin played football, runs track, was a member of the JROTC battalion, a Class of 2008 officer, a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the A-Team, an academic trivia competition team.

After the Naval Academy, he would like to make a career in the U.S. Navy. Along with the other 15 students, he will be leaving in the fall.

“It is great news for Southwest Florida. We are impressed with the caliber of the students,” said Stephanie DuBois, press secretary for Mack.

Last year, 10 of the 20 nominated students were placed in one of the academies, said DuBois.

“I am very proud of the caliber of students in Southwest Florida,” said Mack in a prepared statement. “The fact that 16 students received appointments is a testament to the strength and ability of our students and is a tremendous reflection on our community.”

The students who were accepted into the academies include:

U.S. Military Academy

— Joshua Kelcher of Fort Myers, Dunbar High, will attend the Military Academy Prep School

— Eric Morgan of Fort Myers, Evangelical Christian, will attend the Military Academy Prep School

— Douglas Ross-Walsh of Naples, Gulf Coast High

— John Ross-Walsh of Naples, Gulf Coast High

— Jordan Sorrenti of Marco Island, Lely High

— Jennifer West of Cape Coral, Fort Myers High

U.S. Naval Academy

— Alicia Gaidry of Fort Myers, Cypress Lake High

— Anthony Johnson of Cape Coral, North Fort Myers High, will attend the Naval Academy Prep School

— Andrew King of Fort Myers, Fort Myers High

— Mark Livengood of Cape Coral, Fort Myers High, will attend the Naval Academy Prep School

— Michael Thorsen of Naples, Barron Collier High, will attend the Naval Academy Prep School

— Bradley Wilkin of Cape Coral, Cape Coral High

U.S. Air Force Academy

— Lauren Bailey of Marco Island, Community School of Naples

— Christina Thompson of Bokeelia, Fort Myers High

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

— Anthony Gottschalk of Fort Myers Beach, Bishop Verot High

— Tobie Malo of Naples, graduate of St John Neumann, currently finishing his year at Merchant Marine Prep and will attend the Academy in the fall