COVINGTON, Ga. - Getting into the United States Military Academy at West Point isn’t easy. Just ask Newton High School senior Kijana Knights.
"I've been working on this since freshman year, planning it since 6th grade,” Knights says. “It requires interviews with your senator or congressman…high SAT, high GPA, class rank, a physical fitness test, and interviews with a local admissions counselor or someone at the Academy."
The Newton College and Career Academy STEM Institute student put in that work — and it paid off.
"I had to sit down! Like I knew I wanted to go, but I had to sit down with a bunch of friends and be like, is this what I really want to do? And then I made that decision."
And the excitement around school was doubled, when Newton High School valedictorian Israel Dixon received the same prestigious appointment.
"I knew for sure, as soon as I figured out about West Point, that that is where I wanted to go,” says Dixon, a student in the school’s Academy of Liberal Arts. “West Point would challenge me physically, academically, and mentally to be the best person that I can be."
And as if both students getting into West Point weren’t enough, their friend, Eastside High School senior and Newton College and Career Academy STEM Institute student Corinne Hanson, also decided to follow a path of service — in this case, the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado.
"Everybody in my family has served, whether it's in my military or whether it's in local police forces and things like that, and I really talked with them because I applied to multiple service academies and I had a hard time trying to decide which one I really wanted to go to,” says Hanson. "By going to the Prep School, you get to become a commissioned officer, which gives you the opportunity to lead other people around you and become a better version of yourself."
What’s truly remarkable is how long these three have been in each other’s lives. All three attended Newton County Theme School; Israel started there in second grade, Corinne in third grade, and Kijana in sixth grade. Now, with all three heading off to U.S. Military Academies at the same time, their longtime bond only becomes stronger.
"We might not be able to see each other as much, because we get separated, but knowing that I have that friend that I've known for a while...knowing that I have that friend, is really comforting to me,” says Dixon.