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Watson receives appointment to Air Force Academy

Posted: May 1, 2014 4:47 p.m.
Updated: May 2, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Zack Watson (front row, second from left), a senior at Camden High School (CHS), recently received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. Celebrating with Zack on Monday in CHS’ media center are (front row) his grandfather, Max Ford; mother, Beth Watson; grandmother, Judy Ford; (back row) KCSD Executive Director of Instruction Tim Hopkins; CHS Guidance Counselor Brant Freeman; KCSD Supt. Dr. Frank Morgan; CHS Principal Dan Matthews; and JROTC Col. Tim Webb.

A Camden High School (CHS) senior will head to the Air Force Academy in Colorado after graduation, thanks to a congressional appointment. Zack Watson received a letter from U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney in early February that the congressman was submitting his name to the prestigious academy in early February. In late March, Zack, the son of Beth Watson and grandson of Max and Judy Ford, received a second letter confirming his appointment.

A small gathering of people, including his mother and grandparents, celebrated his appointment Monday in CHS’ media center.

“We’re thrilled for him,” Beth Watson said. “It’s a huge accomplishment and sets him up for military service, which is what he wants to do.”

Beth Watson said Zack was actually nominated to both the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and received the appointment to Colorado. She indicated it was where he really wanted to go.

She also said she is especially thankful to CHS Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Lt. Connell Anthony for working with Zack.

“He’s been in JROTC since he started (high school), and she has been instrumental in his development as a cadet. It’s teachers like that who inspire him to be better. She’s one of the reasons why he’s done so well,” Beth Watson said, adding that Zack has been part of the drill team and color guard.

Mulvaney was scheduled to appear Monday, but Zack’s family said his office contacted them Sunday night and explained he would not be able to make it.

In his nomination letter, Mulvaney said Zack and his parents “should be very proud of your outstanding high school record, community involvement and your determination to succeed.”

According to the academy’s website, nominees “must be of good moral character and meet high leadership, academic, physical and medical standards. The academy recommends nominees complete four years of high school English, math and science classes; three years of social studies, including U.S. History; two years of a foreign language; and one year of computer study.

“Generally, candidates must rank in the top 40 percent of their high school class. However, the average of recent entering classes is the top 3 percent,” the website said.

The academy indicated competitive nominees should score above 580 on the verbal portion of the SAT, above 560 for math; and above 24 and 25, respectively for English/reading and math/science on the ACT.

According to his mother, Zack is ranked 13th in his class and scored a 33 on the ACT, the highest at CHS.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson pointed out in her congratulatory letter to Zack that appointments are awarded only to about 1,200 out of 9,700 applicants each year.

“Your previous accomplishments indicate you have the potential to meet the demands and challenges of the academy and you should be extremely proud of your accomplishment as only the best of the best are so rewarded,” Johnson wrote, adding that she looked forward to welcoming him to the Cadet Wing on June 26.

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