From football field to West Point

Minarets High School 2015 graduate Grant Hall has been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Hall was captain of the Mustang football team, and coach Bob Kelly called Hall a credit to the Minarets football program and to the entire community.

“We are extremely proud that he was part of our team and our school,” Kelly said. “He led by his steady and consistent example as he was one of the best students this school has ever had and was a consistent starter and captain on the football team. He will succeed at West Point through his great work ethic, his nerve under pressure, and his quick-witted ability to think on his feet. He has set the bar high at Minarets and will continue striving and succeeding at whatever he sets his mind on.”

Hall was, an Eagle Scout, was ranked No. 1 academically in his class at Minarets where he served as student body president, Key Club president, was school and regional FFA president, attended Boys State, was president of the Debate Club, and was member of the California National Guard Teen council, and the California Scholarship Federation.

Hall, along with Madera High School’s Christopher Rieping, are the only young men from Madera County to attend the military academy since Nick Greens, who graduated from Yosemite High School in 2011.

Hall will spend the next four years at a historic and demanding institution that is unquestionably the world’s premier in leadership, where he will join alumni such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George S. Patton, and Norman Schwarzkopf.

Supervisor Tom Wheeler, during a board meeting last month, said Hall’s numerous achievements helped show the young football captain and student body president would more than live up to the institution’s high standards.

“I cannot express how proud I am of Grant for his accomplishments to date,” said Wheeler, who noted Hall’s more than 700 hours of community service. “As he goes on to do amazing things at West Point I know he will continue to represent Madera County in a good light.”

Both Hall and Rieping received a standing ovation from the supervisors and audience in attendance at that meeting.

Afterwards, in a story printed by the Madera Tribune, Hall said he was excited at the opportunity to serve his country and plans to graduate with a degree in bio chemsitry.

“This is an opportunity for service but also leadership, and having a unique ability to be enriched in an environment where you’re with some of the top students in the country,” Hall said. “Then you’re able to turn around and give that back to the country. That’s an opportunity I can’t overlook.”

In order to get accepted, Hall and Rieping underwent a significant vetting process, which typically begins when an interested student begins looking at West Point as a freshman or sophomore in high school.

In January of their junior year, Hall and Rieping began the application process. The academies expand a typical college admissions process by adding a medical evaluation by the Department of Defense medical review board, a physical fitness test, and an interview by an admissions representative.

Some representatives expand this process by conducting interviews in front of a panel of former military officers and community leaders, allowing those panels to choose candidates for their nomination. West Point then selects only the most qualified students to attend its hallowed halls.

An appointment to the United States Military Academy is a fully-funded scholarship valued at more than $200,000. West Point is among the nation’s top academic institutions, currently ranked no. 9 on the Forbes list of top colleges. It is one of the top four producers of Rhodes Scholars and Hertz fellowships. In return for this opportunity each of these candidates has a responsibility back to the taxpayers of the United States to serve for a total of 8 years, of which 5 must be as an active Army officer.

“Both of these young men are a great example of the young Americans West Point seeks to lead our soldiers and the Army,” said Hall’s father, Lieutenant Corporal David Hall, married to Christine. “They are well rounded, and at the top of their peer group in three areas – academics, leadership and athletics.

“I hope their attendance will serve as an inspiration for their classmates below them here in Madera County, to rise to the challenge that both of these men took,” Dave Hall continued. “Their accomplishments are something that the greater community of Madera County can be proud of.”

- Staff Report