PHS Student to Attend U.S. Military Academy

A Pawling High School student has earned a great achievement and will soon be attending the United States Military Academy. PHS senior James Bellucci was accepted to West Point earlier this year and has committed to attend the prestigious institution beginning this summer. His acceptance marks the culmination of a rigorous application process; it also reflects his numerous academic and athletic achievements, as well as service to the community.

James Bellucci’s aspirations to attend West Point began at a young age. The idea of serving his country was inspired by the service of his father and both grandfathers, all of whom served in the United States Army. To further this goal, James attended West Point’s Summer Leadership Experience (SLE) last June. The program is intended to give high school juniors a week to experience cadet life at West Point. The SLE features academic classes, physical fitness exercises, military training, and intramural athletics. Each summer, 500 students are selected to attend out of a pool of nearly 6,000 applicants. The SLE also aids potential applicants in making their college decision.

The application process for the United States Military Academy is arduous, and James Bellucci’s acceptance was the result of nearly a year of dedication and effort. In addition to numerous interviews and essays, James was also tasked with securing an endorsement from a United States Congressman or Senator. This process also involved James traveling to New York City in November to appear before a screening panel. Ultimately, he would be the sole recipient of the principal nomination from Representative John Faso of New York’s 19th congressional district in January, as well as an academy nomination from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Shortly after, Congressman Faso called James personally to inform him that he had received the nomination, and his West Point acceptance letter would soon follow.

Last year, the Military Academy reported that 11,027 applicant files were opened, with 3,423 applicants receiving the required nomination. Of that number, 1,041 were finally offered admission. These statistics demonstrate not only how selective the application standards are, but also highlight what a special achievement acceptance represents.

His acceptance to West Point is also a representation of Bellucci’s numerous accomplishments at Pawling High School. In addition to being ranked in the Top 10 in his class academically, James is also a member of the National Honor Society and former President of the Chess Club and the Math Honor Society. Athletically, James served as a Captain of both the Varsity football and wrestling teams. His wrestling career also saw him win the Section 1, Division 2 championship for his weight class, as well as earning a trip to the New York State championship.

James was also awarded the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal Award for outstanding achievement in the study of mathematics and science and the Wells College 21st Century Leadership Award and Scholarship. He is also an active member of the Pawling community, volunteering at the Pawling Resource Center, Pawling Fire Department carnival, and the American Red Cross Blood Drive.

Now that James Bellucci has committed to attend West Point, he will report to the academy on July 2 for six weeks of cadet basic training, also known as “Beast Barracks.” Cadets will have no access to phone or computers and will be exposed to the rigors of life at West Point, including physical criteria and academic testing. While there, James intends to study engineering. At the completion of his four years at the academy, he will enter the army for a five-year commitment as a 2nd Lieutenant.

The motto for West Point is “Duty. Honor. Country.” These are values clearly instilled in James Bellucci. His record at Pawling High School and service to the community, as well as his successful application to West Point are achievements that he, his family, and all of Pawling can truly be proud of.