Congratulations to West Point appointee

IT’S A GIVEN THAT some colleges are more difficult to get into than others. Certainly the United States Military Academy at West Point would fall into that category.

Only roughly one out of every 11 applicants to West Point earns an appointment to spend four years earning a college degree – and the right to be an officer in the U.S. Army.

That makes the recent announcement of Plymouth High School senior Kalei Hering’s appointment to the USMA by Rep.Glenn Grothman all the more impressive.

It’s a laudable achievement for Hering, but it also adds to the luster and prestige of the Plymouth School District.

Over the past dozen or so years, four PHS seniors have earned appointments to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., while another has earned an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

That’s an average of one military academy appointment every two years from a high school that has about 200 students per grade – smaller than many schools across the country that have not won that many of these coveted slots.

First of all, that’s a reflection on the quality of education provided to all students by the Plymouth School District, with a mission of helping each student become his or her best. “As lifelong learners themselves, staff model this mindset and – as a result – students learn that they can set, work towards and accomplish big goals,” PHS Principal Jennifer Rauscher said in commenting on Hering’s appointment.

But, as Tauscher noted, it is also a supportive community that helps foster the atmosphere of success in Plymouth schools – whether that’s local industries supporting educational initiatives, service clubs and groups aiding and cooperating in ceremonies and events at all of the district schools, or parents and families who encourage and aid students, faculty and staff in their efforts.

Any appointment to one of the service academies is indeed a positive achievement not only for any student but also to the family, community and school district that nurtured, raised and educated them.

And it’s not just in the past decade or so that Plymouth graduates have won academy appointments and distinguished themselves in service to their nation.

A 1996 Plymouth High School graduate, Lisa Peplinski Jaster, earned her commission as a second lieutenant in the Army after graduating West Point in 2000. After service in Afghanistan, Iraq and South Korea, she left the Army in 2007 only to return as a Reservist in 2012.

It was three years later that she became only the third female soldier to complete the mentally and physically grueling Army Ranger School at the unheard-of age of 37.

No one expects the newest Panther to join the Long Grey Line to follow that path, but whatever path Cadet Hering follows at West Point and beyond, she joins a long line of Panthers making their hometown proud.

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