Barlow High's Mitchell Booth achieves childhood dream of West Point appointment

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Mitchell Booth

At the end of eighth grade, Mitchell Booth attended his first admissions briefing for West Point.

His Barlow High School college and career director never had had a student come in so young and know exactly what he wanted to do.

“I was floored,” said Patty Neuenschwander. “He never wavered from that goal. He has always been so poised and polished."

Booth’s childhood dream of attending The United States Military Academy came true last week when Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley called to congratulate him on his appointment.

“I feel like I signed up for a marathon,” Booth, 17, said. “I’m excited for the challenge, and I know the rewards of going through with it are really going to be worth it.

I’ve always felt called to do something in a leadership position. If I can become an officer and do it well — if I have a chance to make the lives of those serving with me better — that’s something I should be doing.”

Saturday, Booth’s “big fat envelope” arrived in the mail, something other West Point appointees have referred to as “the Holy Grail” and “the Golden Ticket." The bi-fold included his official appointment and a congratulatory letter.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Booth's 'big fat envelope' included his official West Point appointment and a congratulatory letter. Appointees call it 'The Holy Grail' and 'The Golden Ticket' of the military academy.

The appointment is an achievement years in the making for Booth, who began preparing for West Point in early high school.

An honors student, Booth participated in cross country and track, along with serving on the National Honor Society and as his senior class president.

For two summers, he has participated in a mission trip with Good Shepherd Community Church, teaching English in Slovenia. Booth also enjoys competitive marksmanship and outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking and rock climbing.

Jonathan Martin, pastor of outreach at Good Shepherd, remembers backpacking with Booth his first year of high school.

“When Mitchell goes with you, you know you have everything you need,” Martin said with a laugh. “Everything under the sun. He thinks of everyone with him, including his leader. He has the highest integrity and care for people, and is a young man of faith.”

Only 9 percent of 15,171 applicants were admitted to West Point’s class of 2018. The rigorous West Point admissions process includes an application to West Point for admission and a nomination from a U.S. representative or senator.

Booth received nominations from both From Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Mitchell Booth grew up in Damascus hearing military stories from his grandfather and dreaming of a career as an officer. Last week, he received his appointment to West Point.

To be considered for admission at West Point, applicants must be United States citizens, be between 17 and 23 years old on July 1 of the year they enter the academy, be unmarried and have no legal obligation to support any children.

“Ever since he was little, we always knew Mitchell was going to be an officer,” said Cindy Becker, the Barlow High military liaison and a family friend.

“There was a Civil War rendition when they were in eighth grade, and we knew then Mitchell’s journey would have some kind of medal and badge of honor. He has been protecting his character since he was little and was always an advocate for kids who were picked on .

"I cried when I heard he was appointed," Becker said. "I feel good as an American to know we're training him as an officer. Oregon is luck very blessed to have him represent us at West Point."

Adds Barlow counselor and coach Paul Quirke," He’s always thinking about what he’s doing and making sure he’s doing the right thing at all times. He is quite a role model."

After four years of school, Booth will serve five years as an Army officer. He plans to study mechanical engineering or history.

Appointees refer to their freshman year as “plebe year,” when they are “just below a commandant's dog and just above a Navy goat.”

Booth has some nervousness about his first year, but after dreaming of attending West Point since childhood, he’s undeterred.

"It's going to be a big cultural change this summer, but I feel like God's called me and this is the place I should be," Booth said.

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