Copley earns appointments to West Point, United States Naval Academy


Gauret Stearns

Senior Jon Copley prepares to complete an assignment in his Introduction to Computer Science class.

LeAnne Bugay, Features Editor

Every year over 100 students participate in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). The military education combined with a strong emphasis on character-building leads several students to pursue a career in the military post-high school. One student that has a bright military future is senior Jon Copley.

“I received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy as well as West Point,” Copley said. “I’m still waiting to hear from the Air Force Academy.”

All three academies boast acceptance rates under 12 percent and a long history of graduates that have been appointed to prestigious military positions. Copley plans to be one of those graduates.

“Hopefully I’ll go to one of those service academies and graduate as an officer in the respective branch being a pilot,” Copley said.

Copley understands how much work and perseverance it will take to succeed in a military academy.

“I’m most nervous for my ‘plebe’ year, which is the first year at the service academy when life just really sucks and you get yelled at a lot,” Copley said. “It’s not fun, but once I make it through that I’ll be alright.”

JROTC teacher and retired Col. Scott Vanderhoof said he has no worries for Copley, and knows that he will do great.

“He’s set apart from so many other people, because they have so many folks that apply and very few get accepted,” Vanderhoof said.

Copley wouldn’t have these opportunities if it weren’t for his years of hard work in JROTC.

“I joined ROTC because I wanted a chance to lead,” Copley said. “I really enjoy working with other people and getting the chance to improve my leadership skills.”

Copley’s interest in the program began with his dad, Rear Adm. Curt Copley, Director of Intelligence, U.S. Strategic Command. The Copley’s have moved nine times and lived in Germany, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Nebraska.

“My dad being in the military has helped me,” Copley said. “I realized the military was for me probably my freshman year when I saw the great things my dad was able to do.”

Rear Adm. Copley served in the Navy for almost 30 years and has participated in a long list of military assignments. He is highly decorated, having two Defense Superior Service Medals, two Legion of Merits, Presidential Unit Citation, and several others.

“My dad’s been a big inspiration, seeing him work hard,” Copley said.

JROTC allows Copley to pursue his interests in leading others and working outside.

“Right now he’s our director of operations,” Vanderhoof said. “He oversees our training and recruiting squadrons.”

Copley is captain of the orienteering team.

“It’s land navigation and map reading,” Copley said. “It’s something I really enjoy, being outside, using my hands.”

Vanderhoof described Copley as self-driven and determined to achieve as much as he can within JROTC.

“Him and his partner won the first trophy Bellevue West has won at an orienteering challenge since 1999,” Vanderhoof said. “You don’t have to tell him what to do.”

Vanderhoof has no worries for Copley’s future because of how he excels in JROTC.

“Jon is very mature,” Vanderhoof said. “He’s intelligent. He’s friendly. He’s professional. Jon Copley is the complete package.”