Lorraine and Roy Milark said they weren't the least bit apprehensive about sending their 17-year-old daughter off to the U.S. Naval Academy, an institution with a reputation almost as tough as its standards.
"This is what she wanted," Lorraine Milark said. "We support her. We're behind her all the way."
"We're not worried," Roy Milark added. "The Naval Academy is the best, and I'm giving them my best."
As did nearly 2,000 other parents yesterday, the Milarks, of Beaufort, S.C., dropped off their daughter Stacy in Annapolis to begin Plebe Summer for the academy's incoming freshmen.
During the coming six weeks, the so-called plebes will receive instruction in basic seamanship and infantry drilling and be indoctrinated in the Brigade of Midshipmen's Honor Code which states a midshipman will not lie, cheat or steal.
Academy officials said that of the 1,132 men and women who arrived yesterday, roughly 5 percent won't make it through Plebe Summer and about 25 percent of the class will drop out before they graduate.
Sixty-two members of the class are from Maryland, with 17 from Anne Arundel County and eight from Annapolis, according to academy records.
The Class of 1995 is one of the smallest in 20 years, Naval Academy officials said. The academy admitted about 100 fewer applicants this year because Congress has reduced the size of the academy to about 4,000. Overall academy enrollment currently is about 4,300.
Plebes begin each day at 6 a.m. with morning exercises, and each moment of their time is scheduled until just before 10 p.m. when they receive 20 minutes to themselves. Then, it's lights out.
Academy officials have said this Plebe Summer will see less screaming and yelling at the plebes, an activity that made the indoctrination akin to boot camp.
In the wake of controversy that climbed as far as Congress last year over hazing incidents at the institution, academy officials decided to tone down their approach.
David and Florence Flis yesterday also weren't the least bit nervous when they dropped off their youngest son, Christopher, 17. The Flis' eldest son just graduated from the academy in June, so the routine at The Yard is old hat for the Little Rock, Ark., family.
"Everyone who's here has so many choices to make," David Flis said. "These kids are the best and the brightest. They chose to come here because they know it's the best."