Head of School Mrs. Friess welcomed U.S. Sen. Barrasso, LTC Dr. Mark Johnson, and all those in attendance, and spoke about the mission of JHCA and Sarah’s accomplishments.
"Thank you, Senator Barrasso for nominating Sarah Marie Tallerico. We wholeheartedly agree with your choice! Sarah is an outstanding young woman to represent our Cowboy State at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She earned a perfect 36 on the ACT test and is graduating with academic honors today," she said.
Three of JHCA’s high school teachers, Mr. Kyle Botkin, Ms. Kirby Feaver, and Ms. Laura McMillion also spoke about Sarah and her time at JHCA.
Mr. Botkin said, "Teaching Sarah math over the past two years has been one of the great joys of my career. Her natural inquisitiveness, her perseverance, and her kindness inspire not only her peers, but her teachers as well. I look forward to following your career, and I will not be surprised when I hear you are the flight surgeon on the first mission to Mars."
In her student speech, Miss Tallerico shared the circumstances surrounding her bold decision to leave her family in New York and return to JHCA during the height of the pandemic.
“[In New York], I missed learning with my teachers and peers through our classroom discussions and time together. There’s a component of human connection that just can’t be conveyed through a computer screen,” she said.
She reflected on her time here and believes her decision to return to Jackson helped shape her future.
“I learned that I love to learn … My junior and senior years at the Classical Academy have developed me into a critical thinker, a confident contributor, and a compassionate leader. I have no doubt that my experience here has prepared me for the next phase of my life.”
Coach Lunz, Dean of Students at JHCA, reflected on the qualities we seek to develop that are evident in Sarah and said, “You exhibit a humble confidence that only comes from someone with a deep faith and a desire to follow what is true.”
The keynote address was eloquently delivered by U.S. Senator John Barrasso, who selected Sarah as his nomination to West Point this year. Dr. Barrasso – like Sarah’s father and coincidentally what Sarah aspires to become – is an orthopedic surgeon known as “Wyoming’s Doctor.” He spoke about the history of JHCA, commended its academic integrity, and remarked on Sarah’s tenacity.
Afterwards, Dr. Rudolph, Upper School Dean of Faculty, read the inscription on JHCA’s diploma, written in Latin, and with thunderous applause and cheering, Sarah received her diploma – sporting the biggest smile we’ve ever seen.
For the final portion of the ceremony, and perhaps the most profound, Dr. Johnson spoke about the honor of receiving an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Sarah will begin her cadet basic training in two weeks.
“Our graduates have served the United States from the time President Thomas Jefferson signed the legislation that established the academy in 1802. Over the years, we have provided the nation with military leaders—such as Ulysses Grant, John Pershing, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Norman Schwarzkopf,” he said.
Speaking about the requirements to successfully receive an appointment, Dr. Johnson said, “in addition to being fit, smart, and nominated, anyone seeking admission to West Point must have a burning desire to be a sworn servant of the American people.”
Dr. Johnson noted that over 15,000 highly qualified students competed for admission to the Academy this year and commended JHCA’s rigorous academic and character development, as Sarah was one of the final 1100 students to receive an appointment.
“For the aspiring candidate, West Point offers a fully funded, Ivy League-quality education, military training in the best Army on Earth, and leadership development by the premier institution of its kind in the world,” he said.
He then called Sarah to the stage and, on behalf of the President of the United States and Secretary of the Army, presented her with her official appointment papers.
We could not be more proud of this intelligent, caring, and humble young lady. We look forward to following her career.