Nick Thomas, a 2018 graduate of Amador High and resident of Jackson, started a new and exciting journey this week, reporting as a Cadet in the class of 2023 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Nick has had a roller coaster ride getting to his dream school, but patience and perseverance have paid off.
Nick’s journey to the West Point Military Academy starts two years ago, in 2017 while Nick was a junior at Amador. He had to first complete a preliminary application to see if he was even eligible to apply to West Point. After getting word that he passed the preliminary application, he began on the regular application, which includes a wide array of requirements, including essays, interviews, passing a physical fitness test, and acquiring a nomination from a member of Congress or the Executive branch (Nick got his from Congressman Tom Mcclintock, representing our 4th Congressional District of California).
Then came the waiting game, as Nick continued into his senior year, earning a 3.9 cumulative GPA while being heavily involved with student government, the Blue Crew, and playing on the baseball and water polo teams. While the letters of acceptance for his peers slowly started trickling in, Nick was still playing the waiting game, as West Point has one of the latest notification dates in the country.
When the letter finally came in, Nick received some news that he did not even know was possible: he’d been waitlisted.
Well, technically he was offered “Civil Preparatory Appointment.” If you do not know what that means, don’t be worried because Nick didn’t either. “West Point agreed to pay for my tuition at an approved civilian preparatory school. It was not what I had hoped for, but was essentially a golden ticket for the following year, so I accepted it without a second thought.” Nick said. “At first I was disappointed, but at the same time relieved because I knew that I still had a guaranteed spot in the class of 2023.”
While the rest of his classmates went off to their first year of college, Nick selected to go to the Northwestern Preparatory School in Crestline, CA (up in the San Bernardino mountains). For a semester, here Nick studied, going to class six days a week (yes, six), and had daily workouts in order to train to be in military shape. Running in the high altitude was the worst, Nick told me, but pool PT days were essentially a day off as he was an expert at treading water thanks to water polo. At this tiny school of just 300 students, most of the students were off to a Military Academy in the next year. “The best thing about prep was that I got to meet so many future classmates at West Point and made many new friends who are now at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy.”
After a semester at Northwestern Prep, Nick returned to Amador County, taking classes at Folsom Lake College and staying in shape. “An extra year of waiting was a small price to pay to attend West Point,” he said.
This week Nick flew out to West Point, to the campus that he had never actually seen but always dreamed of.
Here he will join the “Long Grey Line”, a term based off of the iconic grey uniforms that all the Cadets wear that represents all those who have gone through the ranks of the West Point Military Academy in its’ 217 year history. This group includes 2 presidents, 11 astronauts, and 83 Medal of Honor recipients.
Over the next six weeks of rigorous cadet basic training, and the subsequent four years at West Point, Nick will grow and evolve into a leader worthy of commanding some of our nation’s finest.