Class of 2023 cadets to hold leadership positions during PPW

Story and photo by Brandon O’Connor PV Assistant Editor

March 5th, 2020 | News, News and Features
 (Left-to-right) Class of 2023 Cadets Alexandra Cajigal, regimental executive officer; Hannah Lamb, regimental commander/first plebe; and Ben Lockey, regimental command sergeant major, will serve as the cadet leadership during Plebe-Parent Weekend.

For nearly 48 hours this coming weekend, the U.S. Military Academy will be in the hands of the Class of 2023.
As the cadets in the classes above them head out of town for spring break, a temporary regimental staff made up entirely of plebes will take over for almost two days. The annual hand over of responsibility from the first captain to the first plebe will take place Friday afternoon at the end of the modified class day.
All non-plebes will then be allowed to leave for a weeklong break from the academy, while the Class of 2023 stays behind for Plebe-Parent Weekend. Along with showing their parents and families around the academy, members of the class will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Corps of Cadets that are typically handled by the regimental staff. This includes accountability at taps and making sure the events throughout the weekend go off without a hitch.
“A lot of it is planning and coordination, being a liaison between the class leadership and the brigade leadership, and just making sure information is getting pushed down the chain of command in order to put on a good event for the parents,” said Class of 2023 Cadet Hannah Lamb, who will serve as regimental commander, or first plebe, for the weekend. “We’ve had a lot of meetings. I’ve sent probably 300 emails on it already to various people who were asking me questions.”
The leadership for the weekend was chosen following an extensive interview process with nominated cadets. First, each company within the cadet regiment put forward cadets for the leadership positions. They then interviewed at the regimental level before the finalists interviewed with the Brigade Tactical Officer, Col. Kyle Marsh.
“It’s definitely a good eye-opening experience to see the inner workings behind the stage of West Point and seeing it at the higher levels and what people at the brigade level have to do every day,” said Class of 2023 Cadet Ben Lockey, who will serve as regimental command sergeant major. “I have a lot more respect for them now just because there’s a lot of emails and things that they’re responsible for. Doing it and seeing it for a bit on the other side is a different story.”
Lamb and her team will assume control from First Captain Daine Van de Wall and the regimental staff during a ceremony Friday afternoon. They will then be in charge until Sunday morning when they are released for their own spring break.
“It’ll be a huge weight off my shoulders turning the brigade over to the Plebe-Parent Weekend leadership,” Van de Wall said. “After interviewing Cadet Lamb, the Brigade Tactical Officer even said I might be out of a job soon. I am looking forward to seeing how she does. If she likes it, she can keep it.”
Van de Wall said he has “No misgivings at all,” about turning over the academy to the plebes for a weekend, but he did make sure to offer up some advice and lay down a few ground rules to make sure everything is in order when he returns.
“The hardest thing for the plebes in leadership positions will be exercising peer leadership. This is something that takes a long time to become comfortable with. Other than that, I told them no slip-and-slides in Mac Long and no pillow fights!” Van de Wall said. “It’ll be a great opportunity for them to showcase West Point to their family and friends. I remember how excited I was to get the opportunity to lead as a battalion command sergeant major, and this will be an experience they don’t forget.”
Plebe-Parent Weekend includes tours of the superintendent’s house Quarters 100 and the uniform factory, as well as academic open houses.
Saturday morning the cadets will hold a pass and review for their parents, which Lamb will lead as the regimental commander.
“My mom will be very proud of me,” Lamb said. “She’s very excited for that. It’ll definitely be a cool and unique experience. I don’t know if I’ll ever be in such a position again. It’ll be something that I’ll remember.”
While their leadership tenure will be short, Lamb and her fellow officers said it will be a chance to learn what will be expected of them if they have a brigade-level position their final year at West Point.
Regimental executive officer Class of 2023 Cadet Alexandra Cajigal said preparing for the weekend has also enabled the officers to build relationships they will be able to lean on throughout their time at the academy.
“I think at first it might be overwhelming, and I’ve heard things like (the person in) my position running around freaking out,” Cajigal said. “I think we’re a pretty calm group and we’ll be able to keep control. Even if something does happen, which I don’t think anything will, we’ll be able to handle that because we’re all pretty responsible.”
The weekend’s events will conclude with a banquet Saturday evening featuring guest speaker retired Gen. Raymond Thomas, Class of 1980.