Three local students are among the 10 Northwest Georgia graduates to win appointments to U.S. military academies through Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger.
Rome High graduate Aaron Loya and Floyd County resident Margaret DiRuggerio, who attended Stony Brook School in New York, will enter the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Aidan Gaines of Rome High will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Graves traditionally hosts academy appointees and their parents to a send-off dinner with local alumni and other dignitaries, but the coronavirus outbreak broke tradition.
On Monday he held a virtual video call with the students from the 14th Congressional District. Graves said in a press release that this is the largest group to receive appointments since he began nominating students in 2011.
“This year is pretty unique. Not only are we doing it virtually, but this is the largest class we have sent from our congressional district ... We couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you,” Graves told the students.
The congressman uses an independent board of military advisors to review applications from 14th District students and determine who receives a nomination. Each military academy then chooses which students to appoint out of all the nominations received from across the country.
The academies provide a top notch four-year college education in addition to military officer training. The students do not pay for tuition, housing, food, books or other college costs. They instead commit to active duty military service as an officer for five years following graduation.
Graves’ other appointees are:
U.S. Air Force Academy — Savanah Ledbetter of Paulding County;
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy — William Connor Pitts of Paulding County;
U.S. Military Academy at West Point — Joseph Arce of Paulding County, Autumn Grace Keaton of Haralson County; and
U.S. Naval Academy — Chaisen Buckner of Murray County, Tyler Hunt of Gordon County, Jackson Wilkins of Dade County.