Penn Manor Senior to Attend Prestigious Academy

By Lauren Ressler –

Aim high.

The United States military academies have always held high standards for applicants. With the competition of almost 12,000 other applicants and a reduced class size this year, senior Emily Hess was worried she wouldn’t have what it takes to get into the United States Air Force Academy.

“Extremely competitive, you must have impeccable recommendations [and an] impeccable resume [to be accepted],” said Penn Manor principal Eric Howe about acceptance into the Air Force Academy, comparing the academy to an Ivy League college.

Hess had many hoops to jump through to apply to the academy located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Photo courtesy of the USAFA website, a shot of the campus in Colorado Springs, CO

“You have to start preparing your freshman year,” said Hess. “It’s important to be able to compete academically.”

Hess has maintained an unweighted grade point average of 3.8 and kept up with honors and advanced placement classes to show she is academically able to keep up with the high standards of the academy. Hess attended Lancaster Mennonite High School until this year. She exceeded the curriculum at Lancaster Mennonite, so she transferred to Penn Manor in order to take challenging courses not offered at the private school.

Hess also participates in Penn Manor track and field to stay in shape and improve physical stamina. In order to be accepted into a service academy it is important to have exceptional physical health.

Howe described these high standards as needing to be “cream of the crop,” and “top of your game” in order to be accepted into a United States service academy.

After years of hard work and months of waiting, Hess was called into the counseling office last week. Mr. Gale and Mary O’Connor, representative of PA congressman Joe Pitts, were present to break the news. Pitts had nominated Hess for admission into the academy.

She did it.

“I think she was a combination of excited and relieved,” said Gale.”It’s the first one (student) we (Penn Manor) are sending to the Air Force Academy.

Emily Hess will be attending USAFA in June, photo courtesy of Lauren Ressler

“Shocked, relieved and emotional, Emily called her parents to share her acceptance into the academy.

“My dad didn’t know what to say,” said Hess. “He was shocked. My stepmom was very happy for me.”

Hess had first become interested in the academy because of her career goals. She wants to work in military intelligence.

“I knew I would need a good education, and the academy provides the foundation of military strategy,” said Hess.”It’s also free,” explaining that service academies are government-funded.

She explained her parents are very supportive and very proud of her accomplishments.”Dedication, sacrifice, stamina, organization, time management and self-discipline,” are among the expectations of the Academy, according to their website. Hess will leave June 22 to fly to Colorado Springs to attend boot camp. She will be staying with a host family until she moves into the Cadet Wing.

“It’ll be weird going by myself,” said Emily about flying to the Academy alone. “I’m really close with my family.”

Overall, Hess said she is extremely excited to be attending the United States Air Force Academy. She feels it will be a great foundation for her career, and a good experience to improve leadership and gain friends.