Inducting new plebes

The Naval Academy's Class of 2010 includes record number of women and plenty of diversity

June 30, 2006|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

More women were inducted into the Naval Academy's Class of 2010 Wednesday than in any previous class in the school's 161-year history.

The 273 women also make up 22 percent of the 1,218 students who entered the academy, the highest percentage in school history and second among service academies only to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where women make up 28 percent of the student body.

"In 1980, we admitted about 80 and in 1990, we did 136, and tomorrow, on induction day, we will have some 270," Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the academy superintendent, said Tuesday. "That's huge progress."

The others who went through "induction day" - where incoming freshmen, or plebes, are brought in, shorn, given their uniforms and stripped of all ability to communicate with the outside world - made up a fairly typical class of midshipmen.

The 285 members of minority groups were 67 African-Americans, 131 Hispanics, 43 Asian-Americans, 25 Native Americans, 10 Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders and nine who identified themselves as African-American and Hispanic.

The class also includes 12 international students from El Salvador, Ecuador, Korea, Taiwan, Lithuania, Romania, Pakistan, Algeria, Jamaica, Malaysia and Micronesia.

And for the first time, an Iraqi student was admitted at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Air Force Academy also admitted a student from Afghanistan.

Eighty-eight students are children of Naval Academy alumni, while 89 are formerly enlisted sailors, Marines or airmen. About 33 percent, or 397 students, come from college or post-high school preparatory programs, including 237 from the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., 18 from the Nuclear Power School Program in Goose Creek, S.C., 61 from other preparatory schools affiliated with the Naval Academy Foundation and 81 students from other university or private prep schools.

The plebes generally bring solid academic credentials and a record of involvement in high school activities. Eighty percent were in the top fifth of their class, and more than two-thirds of the class scored between 600 and 700 on the verbal portion of the SATs. Almost 85 percent scored in that range on the math portion.

About 90 percent of the students had been varsity athletes in high school, and that same percentage had participated in drama, public speaking or debate. Sixty percent were in the National Honor Society, 35 percent were president or vice president of a school club, 24 percent worked on a school publication staff and 14 percent went through ROTC programs. About 10 percent were class president or vice president, student government president or vice president, Eagle scouts or leaders of a musical group.

As many of the students entered Alumni Hall, they said they were excited or nervous about beginning plebe summer, the arduous Academy indoctrination that lasts seven weeks.

Those days for every new class member are filled with military training, seamanship courses and memorizing the obscure quotes of naval hero John Paul Jones - whose crypt is beneath the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel - and other facts contained in a small booklet called "Reef Points" that they carry with them everywhere.

Michael Gobble, a freshman from Portland, Ore., who graduated from high school three weeks ago, said he had prepared as much as he could for the tough times ahead but still felt a little nervous. He is hoping to be a Marine Corps pilot when he graduates.

"I couldn't see myself doing anything else," he said. "The idea of going to college and getting a job to get money just didn't interest me."

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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