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BHS grad off to US Naval Academy

By Susan Junker BCC Contributor

Noah Nelson holds his acceptance from the US Naval Academy. Off to Annapolis, Maryland on July 1, the Bandera High School graduate will leave behind his 1950 Dodge pickup to major in aerospace engineering, leading to a commission in the United States Marine Corps.

It's a 1950 Dodge B2-B with a 3-speed manual on the floor, 95 HP, flathead straight 6, a pilothouse cab with rear quarter windows and a fine blue finish! The steward of this pickup is Noah Nelson, who will be reporting to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on July 1.
But the truck isn't for sale. Nelson expects to retrieve it from home as soon as the US Navy - and his parents - will allow. Chad and Theresa Nelson of Pipe Creek will keep the truck well maintained while their son is away.
The 10-year long truck restoration effort provided Nelson with many hours of "character building" and honing personality "characteristics" that became critical to his selection for admission to the service academy. The major steps in the process - finding the right truck; negotiating a fair price; exploring the logistics of where, when, who, how and what to repair; and determining who and how to pay for parts and tools - balanced with academic and extracurricular priorities all aimed toward the goal of graduating from the USNA as a Marine Corps aviator.
But "the truck" opportunity came after Nelson already understood the expectations of a high-achieving family.
Chad Nelson served as an aviator in the United States Marine Corps for nearly 22 years, became a stay-at-home dad for several years and then worked for Mooney Aviation. He retired this year as the vice president of operations, but still does consulting work for the company. Theresa Doyle-Nelson is a teacher, education administrator, published author, church historian and blogger. Two older brothers, also truck project enthusiasts, set standards in academics and extracurricular activities at Bandera High School and in college.
Consequently, Nelson understood early that academic achievement was paramount, and that sports and community service were part of that experience. Success in all areas is what Nelson has achieved.
Patience, hard work, discipline, focused direction, self-sacrifice, hard work, leadership, diligence, hard work, motivation, strong ethics, hard work, intelligence, physical fitness - and did we mention hard work? - are just some of the characteristics that Annapolis requires.
Of the more than 19,000 applications this year, just six percent were accepted to the USNA. The Academy's eight "very important" criteria included high school record, GPA, test scores, essay, interview, interests, character and personal qualities and extracurricular activities. But going from "I want to be an aviator" to attending Annapolis also requires a bit of assistance and serendipity.
Within the first two weeks of Nelson's freshman year in high school, three people mentioned "Greystone Preparatory Academy" to his father. Located on the Schreiner University campus, Greystone focused on preparing students for admission to a service academy. David Bailey, CEO and president, reviewed Noah Nelson's record and introduced him to Richard Villareal, a Blue and Gold officer-volunteer in San Antonio.
For the next three years, Bailey and Villareal provided routine check-ups and advice.
Nelson also remains appreciative to his parents for "supporting, but not pushing," and very grateful to his math and English teachers, as well as BHS Principal Gary Bitzkie for his leadership and to business man Russell Hevenor for his ongoing support.
Participation in the Summer Seminar at Annapolis last year and the application process were Nelson's responsibility. "Noah did this 100 percent of this on his own with no knowledge from me on Annapolis or the application process," said his father.
"Effective officers have great discipline, intelligence, physical and mental capacity to successfully lead in a high stress environment," wrote Hevenor in his recommendation letter for Nelson. Hevenor was Nelson's employer at Hevenor Lumber for the past two plus years. The letter continued, "I have no doubt Noah will meet that challenge."
With his desire to major in aerospace engineering focused on outer space, this assessment must be right on target. Nelson's "lessons learned" from the countless of hours spent inside, around, and studying that blue truck will no doubt serve him well, too. Congratulations go out to Noah Nelson on his accomplishments and success to date!
His advice to others? "You gotta want it. You have to stay focused and especially you have stay on top of things," he stated emphatically. As Nelson departs family, Bandera and that 1950 Dodge, many unique and character-building memories will go with and sustain him. Anchors Aweigh!