Around Town: 'What? You want to go WHERE?'

February 16, 2011|By Anita Brenner

Attention, high-school juniors: The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., is now accepting applications for its annual Summer Seminar.

Summer Seminar is an action-packed six-day program that exposes high-school students to life at the Naval Academy.

I had never heard of Summer Seminar until the spring of 2001. One day an envelope arrived, addressed to our son. Being a La Cañada mom, I was curious. When Andrew came home, he opened the envelope and showed it to me.

The letter was from the Department of the Navy. The letter said:

“Congratulations. You have been accepted to Engineering Summer Seminar at the United States Naval Academy.”

“WHAT?” I exclaimed.

“I sent in an application,” he replied.


I was stunned. Thoughts swirled through my brain. Andrew was going to go to college, not into the service. Hadn’t I given him violin lessons? Piano lessons? And the Gollatz cotillion at the Thursday Club? Wasn’t football just a passing phase? Plus, no son of mine….

“Don’t worry, Mom,” he said. “I don’t want to go to the Naval Academy.”

“That’s a relief,” I whispered.

“I want to go to West Point.”


Suddenly, I remembered. In third grade, Andrew and his friend Todd Bryant plotted their escape to West Point.

But the years had passed. Unwittingly, I believed that Andrew had outgrown those childish desires.

So what if his proposed seventh-grade science project (rejected by the science teacher) concerned the comparative effectiveness of bullet-proof vest materials. (“I wrote to the manufacturer for some Kevlar samples….”)

So what if Andrew pestered the uncle who fought at Iwo Jima. (“And, then what happened, Uncle Tony?”)

So what if his coach laughed when I worried that football was dangerous for a 5-foot, 6-inch-tall player. (Coach Fry: “Andrew is less likely to get hurt than to hurt their defense.”)

I had been living in a dream world.

That spring we were invited to several West Point events, which I did not particularly enjoy. But when school let out in late May, Andrew took off for Naval Academy Summer Seminar.

“Don’t worry, Mom.” he said. “I’m applying to West Point.”

By the time he returned, Andrew had decided to apply to Annapolis.

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