Riverside Military Academy considers itself lucky when one student from the school is appointed to the military. This year it has three.
Andrew Olson of Gainesville, Adam Stokes of Atlanta and Fernando Weiner of Miami all were appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after a rigorous application process that takes 14 to 16 months.
Capt. Charles Cook, an admissions officer with West Point and a Riverside alumnus, said having three from the same class headed to West Point is very rare.
"You're lucky if you are the only one in your school that happens to go to West Point," he said.
The standards a student must meet to be accepted are what make the accomplishment so special.
"West Point actually assesses them to be qualified physically, medically and academically," Cook said. "But also and simultaneously they have to apply for a nomination from their congressman or U.S. senator."
To qualify for the appointment, applicants should be in the top 20 percent of their class, have performed well on the SAT, with at least a score of 600 on each section, and should be taking honors and Advanced Placement courses.
Olson in fact was the valedictorian of his class. Academics is 60 percent of the application; leadership counts for another 30 percent.
Many of those appointed are Varsity letter winners and team captains in at least one sport, Cook said.
"They also are leaders within their school in terms of class officer, extracurricular clubs ..." he added.
Olson served as a squad leader and participated in the U.S. House of Representatives' Page Program.
For the last 10 percent, applicants also must pass a six-part fitness assessment that tests strength, endurance and agility.
It's a rigorous process, but Adriane Seymour, spokeswoman for Riverside, said the school aims to prepare its students for success outside of high school no matter where life leads them.
"It's a well-rounded program here," she said. "From the time the boys get up to the time they go to bed at night they're surrounded with structure and discipline. It teaches them time management, organizational skills. Outside of the academic program the boys are very involved in the athletics program, with our character development and our character leadership program."
Olson agreed he is ready for life at West Point after his time at Riverside.
"I feel like Riverside has prepared me well for West Point's environment," he recently told The Times. "I think it will mentally be an easy transition."