Aidan Joyce, a senior at Scarborough High School, will begin basic training at West Point, a U.S. military training academy, in June. Courtesy photo Aidan Joyce

SCARBOROUGH — Aidan Joyce, a Scarborough High School senior, said that he has never been a quitter, and through his time in school, he has been dedicated to attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Located in West Point, New York, the military academy and its competitive admissions process requires applicants to have a nomination from a U.S. Member of Congress, Joyce said. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree nominated Joyce, according to a press release dated April 16.

Joyce, the class salutatorian, first became interested in the school after visiting the campus with his grandfather during a college football game, he said. After seeing the campus, he went home, did research and sought to apply.

Upon receiving his acceptance letter, Joyce said, he was ecstatic.

“This was something I had been working really hard for,” he said. “I put a lot of time into that application. You have to really want it to apply to that school. I was super happy that my hard work paid off.”

Beginning in June, Joyce will be attending West Point’s cadet training with his freshman class, he said.

“The whole incoming class will go to West Point and go through cadet basic training, which is similar to the normal Army training, sort of like boot camp,” Joyce said. “Once that ends, we’ll move into our dorms in September and start the normal school year.”

He plans to go into school with his major undecided, keeping an open mind, looking at various fields of study, he said. He is anticipating an education that excels in leadership training.

“I think West Point, maybe more than a traditional college, emphasizes developing as a leader because once you graduate West Point, you’re commissioned to the Army as an officer where you’re leading soldiers, so there’s a huge emphasis on that,” Joyce said. “I think maybe you could get that at a traditional college, majoring in certain things, but I think all around at West Point, there’s a huge emphasis on leadership development.”

During his time at Scarborough High School, Joyce has been involved in athletics, playing soccer for four years, track his first two and lacrosse each spring besides the 2020 season, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, he said. He was a member of the math team his junior and senior years.

Joyce said he would describe the end of his senior year as “bittersweet” as he prepares to head to New York.

“In a lot of ways I’m a little relieved, and in others I’m sort of sad,” he said. “No more games under the lights with my teammates. Pretty soon I’m going to be off in college and not seeing all these friends I’ve made.”

Scarborough High School taught Joyce time management, balancing challenging coursework and athletics, he said. Many weekends and nights were spent on homework.

Although the pandemic changed much of Joyce’s senior year, he said that he felt the impact more in classes rather than other senior traditions, many of which were held in an altered fashion. Joyce said that he attended school both virtually and in-person through the year.

“I’d definitely say it’s been, on those virtual days, harder to focus naturally,” he said. “You’re at home, trying to pay attention. So it’s been harder to focus, but I’ve just tried to do my best, stay with it. There’s also, as you near the end of senior year, I think there’s sort of a drop in motivation, where you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re so close,’ but I’ve been just trying to tell myself, ‘You have to get through this. You just have to get through graduation.'”

As he moves forward and begins cadet training this summer, Joyce is ready for a new challenge, he said.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “It’s certainly going to be tough. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but at the same time I’m excited to push myself and I know I’ll get through it.”

The Scarborough High School Class of 2021 Commencement is Sunday, June 13, at 7 p.m., at the Cross Insurance Arena. There are about 243 students graduating. The school valedictorian is Lena Wood, the salutatorian is Aidan Joyce and the guest speaker is Michael Carroll.

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