Annapolis Appointees

Annapolis Appointees
By: Wes Wallace

Cape Girardeau, MO - With entrance requirements as tough, if not tougher, than Ivy League Schools, the Naval Academy only accepts 1200 incoming students each year.

"You have to be in the top 10 percent of your class, 30 or above ACT score, countless essays, physical tests, interviews, and a Congressional appointment, it's not easy," says Dr. Ron Lessmann, a Cape Girardeau dentist and Annapolis graduate.

"It's pretty rough," says Annapolis appointee Sam Burke of Charleston, "I've been applying since last June, but thanks to Dr. Lessmann, he's helped me through the process."

Lessmann serves as a Blue and Gold officer, or a mentor to potential Naval Academy applicants.

Like Sam Burke, both John Kipper of Cape Central HS, and Roxanne Hudak of Jackson HS, got accepted for the upcoming year, and it's quite an accomplishment for an area our size. "We're 3-5 times the national average based on our population, and Cape Central is 15 times ahead,' says Dr. Lessmann, "They had nine students in the last 15 years, and we're really proud of these young people."

In all, four graduating seniors were accepted to the prestigious academy, but only three chose to attend.

"My brother graduated in 2002, and I have a cousin that's a first class, he's a senior at the academy, so it sparked my interest," says John Kipper, "It's surreal knowing I got in and beat out so many other good candidates. When I get out, I want to fly something. Everyone wants to fly jets, that's the dream, but helicopters, whatever; I just want to be in the air."

Kipper attends church with fellow appointee Roxanne Hudak. "It's really a small world," she says, "I'm excited about the fact these guys are going in with me."

Hudak's older sister is in the Coast Guard academy and explains that helped her decide on what to do after high school. "I love water, I love the boats, and the physical activity, and camaraderie," she says, "I didn't want a career where I'd graduate and start work the next day. I just want adventure, so I'm pretty thrilled to go out on my own and tackle life."

Sam Burke has other intentions for attending Annapolis. "Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be an officer in the Marines," says Burke, "One of the main reasons I want to go is so I can reach my full potential in life and through it all I know it'll make me the best person I can be."

Both Hudak and Kipper got a chance to attend a senior seminar for the Naval Academy last summer. Burke was busy attending the National High School Rodeo Finals in Wyoming. That's just one example of how all three are involved in extra curricular activities besides their outstanding academic performance.

While their classmates will probably enjoy a summer of fun and sun, the trio will head off to Annapolis next month for their induction.

These are not the first students from the Heartland to be accepted into the Naval Academy. Just last year the valedictorian of Hayti High School, Josh White, was accepted. He is just finishing his first year and plans to be home in Hayti for part of the summer.