ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford high school student has signed a letter of intent to attend the elite West Point Military Academy.

Guilford High School senior Rylee Strand is thought to be the first West Point recruit from Rockford.

With family, friends and school staff looking on, Rylee signed her letter of intent to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Rylee and her parents say they were shocked when the prestigious academy recruited her.

She says receiving West Point’s signature black packet in the mail was overwhelming.

“I cried. I did. I cried,” Strand said. “Just like getting my envelope in the mail just makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger thing.”

Michelle Strand, Rylee’s mom, said, “We’re proud of her. She’s an overachiever. We were just shocked and excited for her.”

Rylee plans to major in engineering. It’s a field she became interested in through Guilford’s Production Academy.

“I mainly give all the credit to my teacher, Mr. Corcoran. He’s really helped me with finding out what I want to do for my job,” she said.

Academy classes through Guilford’s Project Lead the Way are not offered in a typical classroom setting. Students work on different areas of learning, depending on how far they’re advanced.

Guilford Principal Gus Carter said, “It’s unique in the sense that somebody like Rylee can come in and be able to find a passion that, maybe, you didn’t know existed beforehand, just because you’ve been able to have this individual approach to engineering.”

Regardless of where her career path takes her, Rylee believes West Point offers a unique educational opportunity.

“When I went and visited the campus, the class sizes and the morale of all the students is something I really loved,” she said. “The class sizes range from 15 to 18 students apiece, so it’s [sic] really small classes. You get, really, one-on-one learning time with your professors.”

Carter added, “It is a very selective institution. I don’t know that I ever thought I would be part of something like that. You hear a lot about it, and it’s just really cool to be able to say Guilford High School has a West Point candidate.”

Rylee’s brother, Keegan, just graduated from basic training and is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“It’s an honor for us, to have two children that care about our country so much and are willing to do and give their life [sic] for us,” Michelle said. “It’s hard, but it makes us really proud of them.”

Rylee will report for six weeks of basic training in June and will begin classes in August.


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