Students serve at service school

Military school is the primary choice for several Cal students


Anvi Kataria

Senior Oliver Smallridge has enlisted in the Navy and reports to basic training next month.

Nimisa Panda is not the only senior joining the military after graduation next week.
At least six other Cal High seniors will be joining her, including Chaeie Kim, Liam Moore, Patrick Lee, Oliver Smallridge, Sophia Perdersoli, and Emmanuel Vasquez will also be attending service academies or joining the military.
“It’s definitely different compared to being enlisted,” said Lee, who will be attending the US Military Academy at West Point in the Fall. “If you’re enlisted you’re only doing army [stuff] but at the service academy you’re also getting an education.”
Lee described the military academy as four years of university where students also participate in military drills and training.
“After you graduate you have to do five years active service and three years reserve and you can extend your contract,” Lee said.
Two aspects helped Lee decide to apply to a service academy.
“Throughout high school, one thing I’ve learned is that I like serving others,” Lee said. “[The] second reason is just another simple idea for me. When I see others being happy that brings me joy,”
Kim hopes to join the Air Force in the future.
“Next year I’ll be attending Northwestern Military Prep in SoCal doing one year there and transferring to four years in the Air Force Academy in Colorado,” Kim said. “All the students once they graduate are second lieutenant in whichever branch [they chose].”
Chaeie will be majoring in behavioral science as a student cadet.
“It’s a lot harder than you anticipate because there’s a lot of steps to even be qualified as a student candidate,” Kim said. “I didn’t get a direct path [but] there are always methods to getting to the service academy.”
Kim learned about service academies from her uncle, a retired Army colonel, and liked the fact that she could get her education at her own pace.
Also attending the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as a Division-1 swimmer is Perdersoli.
“Being an athlete there is gonna be a different experience and very rigorous,” Perdersoli said.”It’s different than being a student athlete at any other college but I’m looking forward to it.”
Perdersoli learned about service academies from her family friends, but she has always had a desire to serve her country.
“It’s really important to me,” Perdersoli said. “I also wanted to challenge myself academically and athletically.”
Accoridng to the senior check-out list conducted by counseling, Moore will be attending Purdue University and joining the Marine reserves, while Smallridge is joining the Navy and Vasquez the Marines.
All of these seniors have chosen a unique post-graduation path that not many people consider.
“It’s kinda cool to see how [we] are all going at the same time,” Lee said.