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Sarasota Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018 2 years ago

Students make history at Sarasota Military Academy

For the first time ever, three students were accepted to West Point in one year, and one was recruited with a four-year scholarship for a college's rifle team.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

Few people can say they’ve experienced the excitement of learning they’ve been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. 

So it’s not hard to imagine just how excited people were to find out that three students from Sarasota Military Academy were accepted to the academy this year.

Lauren McMahan

Graduating seniors Lauren McMahan and Anastasia Osborne, along with 2017 graduate Davis Ullrich are all headed West Point. Since 2010, five other students were accepted.

“It’s big news, period,” said SMA’s Executive Director of Schools Christina Bowman. “It is extremely difficult to obtain an appointment and acceptance for West Point, and for three individuals from the same school and the same area to be accepted, it’s outstanding.”

Students who want to go to West Point go through a rigorous application process that starts more than a year before they will ultimately attend the school, beginning with a congressional nomination. After undergoing that interview process and waiting to hear if they have their representative’s support, they begin the application process to the school, which includes submitting academic records and test scores, as well as a medical exam and physical test.

Anastasia Osborne

“They’re well-rounded individuals academically, socially, emotionally and physically,” Bowman said.

Once all that’s done, the students wait months before hearing the news.

Osborne was in line at Universal Studios in Orlando with her family when she got the call from U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.

“I pretty much told everyone in the line, and my mom started crying,” she said. “I’m really, really excited, and I can’t wait to get up there.”

McMahan found out on the way home from school one day, from a similar phone call.

“I’m just beyond excited,” McMahan said. “I don’t really know how to explain it.”

Read: SMA juniors prepare for air rifle Junior Olympics

McMahan was recruited to join West Point’s rifle team, and Osborne plans to join as a walk-on. 

Osborne wants to major in space physics and maybe minor in astronomy, then perhaps transfer to the Air Force before eventually, hopefully, becoming an astronaut with NASA.

McMahan isn’t sure what she wants to do, but is looking into majoring in math and maybe going into military intelligence.

Ullrich couldn’t be reached.

The students report to West Point in July.


SMA student first to be recruited for college rifle team, receive scholarship

Kinga Aletto and Reiss Pellegrino

For the first time in Sarasota Military Academy’s history, a student was offered a four-year scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to join the school’s rifle team. Kinga Aletto is that good.

“She’s too humble,” her rifle coach at SMA Capt. Riess Pellegrino said. “She’s an incredible young lady.”

Kinga Aletto at a rifle competition

Aletto joined her school’s rifle team during her freshman year of high school because, of all things, her mom made her. She didn’t know all the sport would do for her from that point on.

Now, after moving to precision shooting after her first year, Aletto holds seven of the 10 records possible at SMA, and tied another student for the eighth.

She’s a captain of the rifle team and is one of only a handful of students to continue shooting in college — and the only one to be specifically recruited.

“I like the challenge,” Aletto said.

Aletto plans to study veterinary science in the hopes to eventually become a vet for large exotic animals.

I’m Cassidy. I cover news in Sarasota County, Siesta Key and the schools, plus community events if they involve dogs. I’m a Florida native, and University of North Florida graduate with degrees in journalism and graphic design. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 304.

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