Rising HS seniors immerse in cadet life during SLE

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

June 15th, 2017 | News, News and Features
Rising seniors attending the first iteration of the Summer Leaders Experience, a program for students who may be considering entering West Point, participate in field training and complete obstacle couses like the reverse climb. There are two iterations June 3-9 and June 10-Friday. Roughly 400 students enrolled in each of the sessions. Students sleep in the barracks, eat at the Mess Hall, attend class and train like cadets.
U.S. Military Academy Class of 2019 Cadet Adewunmi Oyetuga helps a rising high school senior with the M2B 7.62 automatic rifle during the annual Summer Leaders Experience June 8. Rising seniors attend one of two iterations of the week-long experience. Students attend class, sleep in the barracks, eat at the mess hall, and participate in some things cadets do during their 47-month experience. The program hopes to entice students to West Point.

A total of 1,042 rising high school seniors took on the challenges of West Point during the West Point Summer Leaders Experience June 3-9 and June 10-Friday for one week for each iteration of the program.

The West Point Admissions Office hosts the cadet-led SLE program to familiarize attendees of the challenging aspects of cadet life, such as going to classes, rising at 5 a.m. for participating in physical training and military training during a week of intense activity.

Attendees stay in the barracks, eat at the mess hall, go to academic classes, and have a day of military training at Camp Buckner. Attendees also alternated through the Leaders Reaction Course, where they primarily learn teamwork and beating obstacles with names like POW escape, the Wall and Stairway to Heaven.

The Marne challenge course offered more challenges with a rolling log walk and reverse climb and they made their way through the Military Movement Course learning of the various movements in military training like crawling, hanging and climbing. Volunteer cadets and enlisted personnel taught the various challenges.

The junior year of high school is an important decision-making year for rising seniors who will be deciding on colleges, what courses to take and questioning themselves about how they will get through the first year. Some may have a military career in mind and will take advantage of the similar programs offered through the U.S. Naval Academy, Air Force Academy and Coast Guard Academy.

SLE is highly selective, primarily accepting rising seniors who are in the top 20 percent of their class, a National Honor Society member or have an SAT score of 1,200-1,300 and an ACT score of 26-30. West Point generally receives 6,000 applications and, in most cases, 1,000 are accepted.

Attendees begin with submitting an application to enter West Point, which will be an open application until the applicant decides to enter West Point or apply to another college or university.

Seychelle Ibrahim from Old Bridge, New Jersey is attending four college programs, including other military academies in addition to West Point, but said she is enjoying her experience here.

“I am enjoying the academic side and all the information about West Point,” Ibrahim said. “I enjoyed learning about all the historical aspects and the program is very realistic. The cadets are very good at showing us West Point.”

Ibrahim said she enjoys working with people and is planning on joining the military but just isn’t sure which military academy she should choose.

Grace Mayer from Attleboro, Massachusetts already has some familiarization of West Point because her father is a Class of 1989 U.S. Military Academy graduate.

“I’m enjoying this a lot,” Mayer said. “I used to go to all the football games so I’ve been involved with West Point and my sister went to SLE. This is the best way to learn about West Point. I haven’t met anyone from Massachusetts yet and the cadets are from all across the nation and beyond, but I’ve made some friends. I am considering other colleges and if I decide to join the military, I will go to West Point. I have grown to love it.”

Class of 2018 Cadet Saad Humayun said he is enjoying watching the attendees work on the challenges and develop teamwork and friendships with other students.

“All of them are really motivated and they are excited,” Humayun said. “I find it wonderful for them to get the experiences here so they can make a decision.”