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“GOOD MORNING, SUNRISE!” – By Kelsey Baron, ’17


“GOOD MORNING, SUNRISE!”…

…shouted approximately 800 rising high school seniors at 5:30 in the morning. A normal high schooler wouldn’t want to be awake at 5:30am, but this group was different. These 800 candidates were not only awake, but motivated and excited for the hour-and-a-half of sunrise PT (physical training) that was about to begin. I and one other of my Kennedy classmates, Nick Goebelbecker, had the privilege to be among those 800 high schoolers, who were invited to attend The United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar, NASS. It is a week long immersive experience into life as a Naval Academy Midshipman. The program’s acceptance is even more competitive than getting accepted into the Naval Academy itself. During my week spent at the Academy, PT was part of our morning routine just about everyday. We would then move onto tours and intramural sports, classes, or sea trials, depending on the day.

 Echo company, 2nd platoon, 1st Squad

We call ourselves “Echo Elite”

Each candidate was placed in a Company, Platoon, and Squad. This was how most of our daily activities were organized. I was a proud member of Echo company, 2nd platoon, 1st squad.(Easy day Echo!) During the week I came to have great pride in Echo-2-1, and grew very close with the new friends I made, especially those in my squad. We called ourselves Echo Elite, and supported each other throughout the seminar. We came from all over the U.S.; from New Jersey to Texas to California. I’m still close with members of my squad, we share application experiences and advice with each other. At meal times we ate with our squad. Although it was challenging with about 900 people talking at once, we managed to get to know each other during meal times and enjoyed some USNA traditions. One such tradition was opening a new jar of peanut butter by standing on your chair, yelling “Beat Army!!” and smashing the jar on your head so that the seal popped off, followed by a round of applause from the rest of the dining hall. During the latter half of the week, we attended Naval Academy classes taught by Academy professors. From discussing military scenarios and what the right decision would be when placed in them, to getting soaked learning how to patch a leaking pipe, all learning was hands on.

Wet, dirty push-ups during NASS

NASS Students participate in “Wet and Sandy”

One of my favorite parts of NASS was our day of Sea Trials. Sea Trials is a 13 hour experience that plebes (freshman) at the academy complete towards the end of their first year. We had a mini version of sea trials that was about 8 hours long, and consisted of four phases. My favorite part was “wet and sandy”, during which we jumped in the Severn River, fully clothed, then rolled around in the muddy sand and proceeded to do push ups and team building exercises. It was challenging, cold, and slightly disgusting; but also, exhilarating, fun, and an experience I will never have anywhere else.

End of Junior Year Experience at USNA

End of Junior Year Experience at USNA

During NASS we attended many briefs about everything from academics at the Academy, to ethics, to job opportunities that would be available after graduation. My favorite brief was presented by a woman named Ryan Manion. She spoke of her brother, Travis Manion, a Navy seal who made the ultimate sacrifice when hit by enemy sniper fire while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded comrades. Travis’ actions that day allowed every other member of his patrol to survive the ambush. His sister, Ryan, and their mother created the Travis Manion Foundation in his honor. Its purpose is to serve veterans, remember the fallen, and inspire the next generation to live in a way that honors those who fought for their freedom. When asked why he was willing to go out on another deployment, Travis Manion answered, “If not me, then who?” Ms. Manion challenged all of us attending NASS to live out this idea and now, I want to pass this challenge on to you as well.

The United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar was one of the best weeks of my life. I highly urge high school juniors to consider applying for NASS and the Naval Academy itself. NASS is a fantastic opportunity, and an experience like no other. It will challenge you, push you farther than you ever thought you would go, and reward you in ways you can’t even imagine. You will form friendships that will last across the country and learn lessons about character and morals that will stay with you throughout your life. I could not be more grateful for my week spent at the Academy. It is my dream to attend the Naval Academy, graduate as a part of the class of 2021, and to serve in our nation’s Navy. After all, “If not me, then who?”.

 

To learn more about NASS at the United States Naval Academy, click here!

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