Thursday, 9 December 2010
A Day in the Life of a 21st Century Cadet
Those who recall being awakened by the dulcet tones of the Hell Cats, standing in the snow at 6 a.m. during Gloom Period for reveille formation at West Point, and then scurrying back to sweep out their room before breakfast formation will be somewhat surprised to discover that reveille formation is no more. Now reveille at 6:30 a.m., but there is no formation. Instead there is assembly for breakfast formation at 6:55. Earlier, there was release from quarters at 5:20 a.m., for cadets who wish to run a few miles before breakfast, which is served from 7:05 to 7:20 a.m.
At 7:30, class begins, running until 8:25. Subsequent 55-minute morning class periods begin at 8:40, 9:50 and 11:00. Lunch formation is at 12:05, and on Mondays the Corps may march out onto the Plain (weather permitting) prior to entering Washington Hall. It is a simple detour, out to Trophy Point and back, with a few “eyes right” thrown in. Lunch is served from 12:10 to 12:35, with 1250-1345 being devoted to Commandant’s Hour or Dean’s Lab Hour on alternate days. Subsequent periods are 1:55 to 2:50 p.m. and 3:05 to 4:00 p.m. Physical fitness courses have modified times to allow for changing into gym clothing and showers. Athletics, drill and military or physical training occupy the hours from 4:15 to 5:45 on Monday through Thursday and can include the last hour of academics, depending upon scheduling. Friday afternoons generally are free to permit cadets to attend corps squad or club-level sporting events.
Perhaps the most surprising change involves supper—it is optional every day except Thursday. Food is available from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and can be eaten sitting down at tables in the mess hall or picked up from a buffet line and taken back to the barracks. Recently, Plebe mandatory suppers have been added on Mondays and Wednesdays, with upper classmen detailed as table commandants.
After supper, cadets are free to participate in extracurricular activities from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, while 7:45 to 8:30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays are the Dean’s lecture periods. Friday is open. Evening study period extends to Taps at 11:30 p.m., with lights out at midnight.
On the weekend, breakfast is mandatory at the normal time on A/Saturdays, followed by four morning academic periods and optional lunch at 11:30. These periods, however, are devoted to lectures, examinations, films, seminars, makeup classes, additional instruction and such on Dean’s Saturdays and military training on Commandant’s Saturdays. On B/Saturdays, optional breakfast is 6:30 to 8:00, while on Football/Saturdays it is available from 7:00 to 8:30. The remainder of the day is free until Taps at 1:00 a.m. Sunday, with optional supper at 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Generally, during the course of the year there are more Commandant’s Saturdays than Dean’s Saturdays. Sundays generally are free, with optional breakfast (actually brunch) available from 9:30 to 12:30, although there is an option to schedule a mandatory activity after 12:30 p.m. Optional supper is 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., followed by an hour of Superintendent’s Time.
The five week days are designated either “1-Day” or “2-Day.” If your current week started with a 1-Day, the next week will start with a 2-Day. When laboratory periods are needed, the first two periods and/or the last two periods may be combined during the mornings of either day. An additional lab period is available during the two hours after lunch on a 2-Day. All of this information is available to cadets electronically and on the infamous “buff card” that includes the academic schedule for the full year.
This is a far cry from the rather simple days of three classes in the morning, two in the afternoon and normal classes on Saturday mornings. If this sounds confusing, just imagine how it must appear to a Plebe during his or her first week of academics.
The following information may be of interest to some old grads. Area formation on Fridays runs from 1700 hours (5:00 p.m.) to 1900 hours (7:00 p.m.) or for two hours. On Saturdays, five hours may be walked, from noon to 1700 hours. I would imagine that the fifth hour is a real test of endurance. As I recall from my limited personal experience, in the dark ages it was two hours on Wednesday and three on Saturday. And that third hour seemed to last forever.
We will save for another day descriptions of black jackets (rather than gray) with company insignia; black book bags; CamelBak personal hydration systems; and other such innovations. For the moment, Beat Navy, Beat Southern Methodist on 30 December in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas, TX, and congratulations to Coach Ellerson on the occasion of his two-year contract extension through the 2015 season.
Your humble servant, J. Phoenix, Esquire.
Please forward guest articles, comments and suggestions for future topics to JPhoenix@wpaog.org
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