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Congressman visits military hopefuls

January 21, 2012
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

Four CHS students had a private meeting at the high school on Jan. 11 when U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson visited the school. Three of the four are seniors planning to continue their education at a military academy this fall.

The seniors include Michael and Anthony Ross. The brothers have gone through the required testing and training and received Johnson's nomination. The third student was C.J. Blaney.

Of the three, Anthony and Michael have both received their acceptance letters to West Point. Blaney is still waiting to hear, but expectations are high. Michael and Anthony's father Tony Ross said they all had to go through a long process that began over a year ago.

Article Photos

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson poses with three Canfield High School seniors who are planning to continue their education at a military academy this fall. Pictured are Anthony and Michael Ross and C.J. Blaney. Both Ross brothers are planning to attend West Point while Blaney is looking at the Air Force Academy.

"The process starts in December of a student's junior year," Tony said. "They have to apply to summer seminars."

He said 60 percent of those who take the seminars get into the academy.

In March of the junior year, work begins on the application process. That proceeds to June, when the student starts working to pass their Candidate Fitness Assessment. The assessment ensures they have the physical strength and endurance to make it in an academy.

In July, the student then must pass an extensive physical exam. Tony Ross said a local physician is used, but is selected for the student. After that and the summer seminars, the student is ready to be considered.

In their senior year, the students must start by applying to U.S. congressmen and senators, hoping to gain their backing, or nomination. Anthony, Michael, and Blaney each got the nomination from Johnson. Before they were accepted, they had to go through an interview with the congressman, which takes place around November or December. After the interview, all three got the phone call that they have been nominated.

Since that call, Anthony and Michael have each received a letter of acceptance from West Point. As for for Blaney, the letter has yet to arrive. Tony said they have until March 15 to receive the letter after which they must inform the academy that they will accept the scholarship and will be attending.

"The scholarship to an academy have been valued at around $475,000," Tony said.

Michael said he is leaning towards West Point, but has also been nominated to the U.S. Naval Academy. Blaney was nominated to the Air Force Academy.

During his visit on Wednesday, Johnson told the students, "If we are going to create and cultivate professional military strategists and leaders, we are going to have to grow them from the ground up... When you make that call to become a professional military person, that is what you will do the rest of your life."

Johnson congratulated the three young men he nominated, and he was introduced to a CHS junior who is also looking at attending a military school. Emily Conroy is just starting the process her fellow students have been through. She said her interest lies with the Air Force.

"I've long had a fascination with airplanes," she said. "I was inspired by watching the old World War II movies and by visiting Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I am looking at the Air Force as a career choice."

Conroy is already involved as a member of the Civil Air Patrol at the Youngstown Air Reserve Base in Vienna. She joined in March of 2011 and, after taking training classes and a leadership test, she has already earned the Wright Brothers Award which she said is the equal to rising from airman to sergeant.

She is also one of 13 that serves on the drill team at the air base. She said the team meets every Saturday and drills to be ready for competition.

"We are hoping to compete at a regional event and make it to the nationals where we will challenge teams from other air bases," Conroy said.

She was introduced to Johnson who said he looked forward to the day he will be interviewing her for a nomination to the Air Force Academy.



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