- Public Schools of the Tarrytowns
West Point Bound: Q & A with SHHS Senior Kade Riddle
Senior Kade Riddle is West Point bound—an accomplishment not achieved by a Sleepy Hollow High School senior in more than a decade. With a unique and competitive application process, West Point reports that about 10,000 students start the application process but only a little over 1,000 are admitted. The prestigious service academy requires candidates to not only have stellar grades and show a commitment to their community, but also be able to pass rigorous physical requirements. What’s more, they must be nominated by a member of Congress.
Kade received many questions about his desire and decision to attend West Point and, as a tribute to him and his incredibly hard work, we are pleased to share his responses to those questions and others.
At what point did you become interested in attending West Point and what drew you to this type of experience?
This was a childhood dream that started for me around seventh and eighth grade when I had the opportunity to take a tour given by an officer. At the time, I didn't fully understand what West Point offered or what it was even about. However, the aura and structure of the campus struck me like none other. I began doing a lot of research at the time and truly became invested in the idea of attending, and committed myself to doing my best I could to get there.
In my life, I have gone through a fair bit of adversity. It’s taught me that I can grow stronger and learn through times of hardship and, by going to West Point, I plan to take full advantage of the challenges that come my way. It is truly unlike any other university or academy, and that is what made me fall in love with West Point.
West Point is known to have a lengthy and difficult application process. What was that like for you and how did you manage it?
The application process is truly like no other—while many of my classmates started applying to colleges in the fall of their senior year, I had to start applying at the end of junior year. First, you have to qualify as a candidate before you can even submit the actual application. Then, you must get medically qualified and complete a fitness test in addition to submitting essays, a lengthy questionnaire, a record of extracurricular activities, and participating in an interview.
One unique requirement is the congressional nominations. The process is very complex and requires a lot of attention to detail. It begins by applying to congressional representatives for an interview. I applied to Congressman Mondaire Jones, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Chuck Schumer, as well as the Vice Presidential nomination. I was able to interview with Congressman Mondaire Jones and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and, between the two, I received nominations to all the academies to which I applied. Initially, I received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy and Merchant Marine Academy, which was through a nomination by Mondaire Jones. However, ultimately I was appointed to West Point through a nomination by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. It's a very complex process that comes down to attention to detail, commitment, and hard work.
What will you study at West Point?
When I first dreamed about attending West Point, I thought I might want to be a physicist or an astrophysicist. However, I was able to experiment with these career fields and found that I didn't like how theoretical they were. Now I believe that I will study a form of engineering at West Point, such as mechanical engineering, since it is more of a hands-on job experience. This, of course, might change, but generally, I plan to major in a form of science and minor in Russian or Chinese.
Do you think you will pursue a career in the military?
I believe so. My goals, for now, are to go to Airborne School and Ranger School, as well as to earn a Special Forces Tab. I would like to go into the branch of Military Intelligence or Special Forces and stay there for at least ten years. From there, I will see where life takes me and if I will want to stay or take a different route, such as going into the private sector. Overall, I am committed to serving, and I believe that my team and I will strengthen and prosper by overcoming the challenges that are presented. What I learn at West Point will make me a better leader and ultimately help others around me and in my community.
What were your extracurricular interests at SHHS?
I believe extracurriculars were my strong point at Sleepy Hollow High School, and I also have a lot of involvement with the community. Coming into junior year, I noticed that the school didn’t have a chess club, so I created one and taught over 15 students weekly how to play chess. We also had tournaments and coordinated with other schools to play. I was elected Vice President of the National Honors Society and, along with the other officers, organized a lot of events in the school and helped provide necessities to those in need. I was also a class representative in my junior year and treasurer in my senior year, where we coordinated prom and spirit week for our school. I also participated in track throughout high school—my primary events are the 1600m and pole vaulting.
As far as community involvement, I am a Senior Master Sergeant and First Sergeant with the Civil Air Patrol. We help with community events and community service and, if ever necessary, we can be an aviation emergency unit for search and rescue. I am also the founder of the Tarrytown Snow Crew, an informal organization that partners with the Snow Angels Program to help disabled or elderly people who are unable to shovel their driveways after storms. I am an online chess coach, and I have also helped the local library with multiple events, such as the book fair that happens every year.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and any parting thoughts to share?
I am super honored to be appointed to such a prestigious academy, and I truly could not have done it without the help of my mom, my teachers, my school counselor, and many others. After graduation, I will have only four days before being sent to Basic Cadet Training, better known as BEAST—so the hard work is not going to stop! There are still many security clearances that I have to go through, as well as documentation and paperwork; however, I am ready and can't wait to serve with honor as a member of the long gray line. GO ARMY!