For most Perry Meridian graduates planning to attend college in the fall, they will have three months of summer vacation to goof off while preparing for the next phase of their lives. However, that’s not the case with Clayton Carter, Chris Allman and Cody Donald, all of whom have been appointed to U.S. service academies and will report between June 25 and July 1.
The institutions grant bachelor’s degrees and evaluate cadets on a broad academic program, military leadership performance and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Less than 9 percent of applicants receive appointments, which come with full-ride scholarships and stipends.
“It’s going to be a short summer,” said Carter, who will report to the Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on June 29 to begin cadet basic training. “But I am anxious to get started. I am sure it will be a shock to my system, but I will get used to it and settle down. I am looking forward to being a part of the academy.”
At times during the past several months of school, Carter has wanted to move on and get started at the West Point, but his disciplined nature has ensured that he remains focused. Perhaps that attitude explains his 4.2 grade point average.
Allman, who reports to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on July 1, said he is looking forward to attending the academy because it will provide huge opportunities for him. Allman, who sports a 4.1 gpa, has been to the institution several times and met an admiral at a football game. He will reside at Bancroft Hall, which houses more than 4,000 Midshipmen and is the largest dormitory in the world. “The campus is beautiful. The buildings are made of stone and marble, and looking out on the water you see many boats.
“I just want to thank my family and friends for all their support,” said Allman. “It’s because of them that I am going to the Naval Academy.”
Donald, who has the shortest summer break and the longest trip (1,067 miles), will report to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on June 25. “I’ve dreamed about being in the Air Force since I was in the fifth or sixth grade. When I found out that I had been accepted, I was alone at home. I started screaming and running up and down the hallway. I think it will be a blast,” said Donald, adding sarcastically that he’s looking forward to the biweekly haircuts.
“I was at the academy about a year ago, and it sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The chapel is gorgeous, and the scenery and the wide-open blue skies are beautiful. Most of my family is driving out there with me,” said Donald, who expects to go into pilot training upon graduating in 2019. After his “full 20,” a career in politics might await him as he aspires to hold office.”
Donald, son of Shelly Ellis and Travis Donald, continues to take his studies seriously, as evidenced by his 4.1 gpa. “If I slack off now, that might affect how I perform at the academy, and that wouldn’t be beneficial for me. I consider myself extremely lucky. I thank God every day for the opportunity.”
The three young men, all of whom have a five-year commitment to their respective academies after they graduate, were notified of their appointments after receiving letters of recommendations from any combination of U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson.
“Sen. Donnelly declined my request for an interview in a hurry,” said Allman, “and I thought, ‘Oh no. This is bad.’ But Sen. Coats and Rep. Carson granted me interviews about a month and a half later. I knew if I had an interview, I had a chance. The interview with Rep. Carson was more laid-back. With Sen. Coats, I was in a huge room that had a bad echo. I was a little intimidated before I gained my confidence.
Allman’s lucky day was when Coats’ secretary called him and put Coats on the line. “He told me that I had been accepted. I freaked out. I was yelling and running around the house. My sister (Sara, a junior at Perry Meridian) gave me a big hug. I called about 30 people.”
Allman, whose parents are Kim Allman and Leisa Waggoner, plans to study engineering and mathematics as a undergraduate before pursuing a career in aviation or as a warfare officer.
Carter has also dreamed about a career in the armed forces since he was a lad. “I first learned about the military from my fourth-grade teacher. Obviously, I didn’t know much about the military then, but it interested me. My interest escalated over the years, and then I realized that I wanted to join. My parents (Timothy and Kerri Carter) didn’t pressure me to apply. They just pushed me to follow my dreams. They have been very supportive. Obviously, they are proud of me.” So is his sister, Chelsia, a junior at Ball State.
Carter and Donald attended a leadership camp at the Military Academy last summer and were introduced to military life. Even though Carter doesn’t come from a military family, he said there is a good chance that he will pursue a military career, either in aviation or engineering.
All three are members of the National Honor Society and have been busy with extracurricular activities throughout their high school careers, which will end May 29 with commencement ceremonies.
Carter played football and basketball and was on the track and field.
Allman, a four-year varsity golfer, fired a 78 and finished eighth in the Marion County tournament, which the Falcons won. His best round of 72 was recorded at Heartland Crossing, and he has a hole-in-one to his credit. Since being appointed to the academy, he’s been a little more laid-back about his studies. “If I get a B on a test, it won’t be so bothersome. High school has been a good four years. It went by so fast.”
Donald played football, threw the discus, was co-president of Best Buddies and was a member of “Falcon TV.”
The cadets know they will be surrendering most of their freedom in a short time, but that doesn’t really bother them. The rewards down the road will be worth the sacrifice.