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'A new beginning’: Basic training starts at USAFA Prep School

Prep School BCT 2018

Scores of young men and women accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School arrived at the Academy July 18, 2018 to begin basic military training at the Prep School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Darcie L. Ibidapo)

Basic Training Prep School 2018

An Air Force drill instructor gives directions July 18, 2018 to one of the more than 200 young men and women accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School. Scores of young men arrived that to begin the Prep School's 18-day basic military training course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Darcie L. Ibidapo)

Basic Training Prep School 2018

A young man accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School hugs a relative before beginning basic training training, July 18, 2018. Those accepted into the Prep School must successfully complete an 18-day basic military training course before earning the title of cadet candidate at the Prep School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Darcie L. Ibidapo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --

Basic military training started July 18 for more than 200 young men and women at the Air Force Academy’s Prep School.

They began reporting to the Prep School just after 7 a.m., lining-up near the Community Center with their families or friends, chatting quietly and taking last-minute photographs.

Most of the Prep School appointees were between 17 and 19 years-old, including Ke’Andre Brayboy of Columbia, South Carolina; Gavin Reitz of Saint Cloud, Minnesota; Anna Rutland of Owensboro, Kentucky; and Kendell Bonner of Gaithersburg, Maryland.

All four said they knew successfully completing the Prep School’s 10-month curriculum doesn’t guarantee acceptance to the Academy, but as Bonner said, it’s a “step in the right direction.’

Brayboy

Brayboy said he’s confident his academic skills would benefit him, but was apprehensive about the physical challenges he’d face.

“I haven’t always been the most physical person so that’s probably my biggest concern,” he said.

Before arriving at the Prep School, Brayboy participated in Junior ROTC, something he said gave him a bare-bones idea of what an Air Force career might be like.

“I’d been looking for a school to go to and the Academy seemed like it might be it,” he said. “I just hope the Prep School gets me there.”

Brayboy hopes to study computer science if accepted to the Academy.

Reitz

Reitz, a high school lacrosse athlete, stood in line with his father Rich Reitz and uncle, Lt. Col. Joel Dixon, director of sports medicine for the Academy’s Athletic Department.

“My heart is beating out of my chest,” he said.

Reitz hopes to be admitted to the Academy and play lacrosse for the school.

“It’s just a great program,” he said.

Rich Reitz said the Prep School will help his son “be the best he can be.”

“I’ve done the best that I can for him or I think I have,” he said. “I’m gonna miss him.”

Dixon said his nephew’s admittance to the Prep School is the “best thing ever.”

“It’s what I think he needs as an 18-year old,” he said.

Rutland

Rutland, a high school track and field athlete, stood in line with her father, Lee, and mother, Eden

“I’m nervous but excited — but it’s a great opportunity,” she said.

Eden Rutland is optimistic about her daughter’s ability to handle basic training.

“She worked really hard for this,” she said. “She’s had this as a goal since her freshman high school year. She’s an overachiever and she’s going to do well.”

Rutland belongs to a military family and hopes to study mechanical engineering if accepted to the Academy. She also participated in a Junior ROTC program.

“I should survive this, I suppose,” she said with a laugh.

Bonner

Bonner said he’s looking forward to his time at the Prep School.

“It’s a new beginning in life.”

He considered applying to the U.S. Military Academy’s Prep School but thought the Air Force would be a better fit.

Regardless of the branch of service, Bonner’s hopes to serve in the military as a means of continuing the legacy of his grandfather, a Vietnam War-era pilot who served in the Marines.

“I’m ready to roll,” he said.

After saying goodbye to their families and friends, Brayboy, Reitz, Rutland and Bonner and the other Prep School appointees, met their military trainers, got haircuts, attended medical briefings and received their military uniforms, among other activities.

The Prep School’s 10-month curriculum academically, physically and militarily develops select young men and women. Last year, 190 cadet-candidates earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy.

The Prep School appointees earn the title “cadet candidate” after successfully completing the 18-day basic training course.

In all, 240 Prep School appointees, including 54 prior-service members, were invited to basic training.