Cadre prepares for Summer Leaders Experience
Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 4, 2014) — The The West Point Admissions Office conducts the cadet-led Summer Leaders Experience for rising high school seniors for an accelerated program that includes academic classes and physical and military training to expose them to the challenges of cadet life.
“This is all to make sure everything is up to par,” Class of 2015 Cadet Ashton Wolf, SLE cadet-in-charge, said. “This year we have 519 students signed up for the first iteration and 509 signed up for the second.”
The SLE is conducted in two weeklong iterations and attendees were chosen from an applicant pool of 6,000 candidates.
“The candidates we invite help shape the classes because historically about 40 percent of those who attend the SLE go on to West Point,” Lt. Col. Tom Hansbarger, associate director of Admissions and officer in charge, said.
Class of 2015 Cadet Roberto Huie, SLE first sergeant, attended the program in 2010.
“It was exciting and by the end of the week, I was pretty sure I wanted to go to West Point,” the New York City native said.
The cadets running the program—roughly 55 cadets from the Class of 2015 and Class of 2016—are gaining valuable leadership experience with having the daunting responsibility of leading and mentoring candidates in the program while keeping it interesting.
“We are excited about this,” Wolf said. “We will conduct workshops, candidates attend classes and this year we are adding knowledge, such as ranks and insignias and give them a taste of beast barracks or cadet basic training. I had no idea what ranks were when I first entered West Point. This will give them the experience that all cadets go through in academic and military training, including weapons training.”
In preparation for SLE, the cadre visited the Leader Reaction Course May 30 to rehearse how they’ll conduct that training. The course is a series of challenging problem-solving obstacles that require teamwork to get the job done.
“Each of the five platoons will have eight squads, with one squad leader to 12 or 13 candidates who will go through 12 obstacles,” Wolf said. “We give them a lot of time to go through the obstacles, safety is a priority and they should use all the allotted time to get through the task. The main purpose of these obstacles is to build camaraderie and working with others they don’t know.”
Wolf said she has served previously as a platoon sergeant and team leader, but SLE is the first major leadership position she has had throughout her cadet career.
The cadre for the Summer Leaders Experience work together on the Leader Reaction Course May 30 in preparation to guide more than 500 rising high school seniors through the obstacle course. The Admissions Office’s SLE program shows potential West Point candidates what the academy is all about, from the academics inside the classroom to the military training in the field. Ten firsties and 45 cows will provide this experience for the students for two weeklong iterations of SLE.
“I have really competent platoon leaders so I’m not worried,” Wolf said. “I don’t know everyone, maybe 10 cadets I know well, but it is a fun process; there’s a lot of differing personalities.”
“The squad leader will council individual candidates to determine who is a good leader,” Class of 2015 Cadet Richard Wilson, platoon leader, said. “It’s a good way to put them in leadership roles and see who steps up.”
The SLE is a competitive program and applicants are typically in the top 20 percent of their class, a National Honor Society member and have an SAT score of 1200-1300 and ACT 26-30.
Chosen applicants are invited to attend the program using information supplied on the academic, athletic and extracurricular information on the SLE application.
To learn more about the West Point Admissions Summer Leaders Experience, visit www.usma.edu/Admissions/SitePages/Summer.aspx.