Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Schuylkill County Cyber Charter School Graduate Accepted into the Prestigious Virginia Military Academy

A Schuylkill County Cyber Charter School graduate has been accepted into one of the most prestigious military academies in the country.

Angeline Castagna, a New Ringgold senior who attends Achievement House Cyber Charter School, has been accepted into the prestigious Virginia Military Institute in Lexington City, Virginia. 

Castagna enrolled in the Achievement House Cyber Charter School in the 9th grade to accommodate her busy schedule in competitive dance, a passion she has had since early childhood. Because of her hectic rehearsal schedule, Castagna needed to find a school that offered flexible classroom learning options. Her search led her to Achievement House where she enrolled because she was taking thirteen dance classes a week and averaging a total of seventeen hours a week in her studio. Achievement House is a grade 7-12 public charter school that educates students in their homes through the internet enabling scholars like Castagna to take classes at times that work best with their lifestyles.

After enrolling in Achievement House, Castagna waltzed into another passion that would lead her to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)--a love for U.S. military history. Castagna was recently accepted into VMI’s ROTC Air Force program and is ready to start her new military life. Castagna is one of a few Pennsylvania public Cyber Charter school students to be accepted into a military college.

“VMI has been my dream school since 9th grade, and I realized pretty early that it was where I wanted to go, despite friends who did not take me seriously,” Castagna said. “They thought that just because I was a dancer, I wasn’t going to go to a military school and even questioned whether or not I was aware that VMI was a military institute. Most of them realized how much I wanted to do this after talking with me for a while, but it was nice to prove my friends wrong who didn’t take me seriously at first.”

Castagna discovered VMI after a sixth-grade teacher sparked her interest in the American Civil War. She was particularly fascinated by Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who fought in the Civil War.

VMI’s application process is extensive, requiring an 1100 SAT score, a minimum of 20 academic units, a GPA above 3.0, and several extracurricular achievements. When the time came for Castagna to start exploring colleges, VMI was always on her mind.

“I was fortunate to meet with the Admissions Office and get a provisional appointment to VMI before my junior year,” Castagna said. “What helped me was being aware of all the due dates while staying on top of my school work, keeping up with my extracurricular activities, and volunteering at my local food pantry at Saint John the 23rd Parish Teens for Teens program. The smaller student population will allow me to enjoy closer connections with my professors and a stronger academic focus since the coursework is rigorous and demanding. I believe VMI is the best place for me to get an education.”

VMI cadets are required to undergo four years of an ROTC program of their choice in one branch of the military. After graduation, they can either return to civilian status or seek a commission from the branch they chose. While Castagna would like to commission into the United States Air Force after graduation, her bigger goal is to become a commercial pilot. Since VMI does not offer these certifications, Castagna is prepared to obtain them on her own.

“While I would love to commission and serve in the Air Force, I am going to explore what is best for me upon graduation,” Castagna says. “Since I hope to seek a commission right now, I am looking for flight lessons to get my private pilot’s license, which would allow me to become a commercial pilot regardless if I seek commission or not. I will have to do this while I am home from school on breaks or before I attend VMI. There’s always the option to obtain it after graduation, but I am eager to get started.”

Castagna said that this process has also allowed her to have stronger organization skills and a sense of focus. She feels that Achievement House Cyber Charter School helped prepare her for VMI because of the strong teacher support the school provides. Through Achievement House classes such as Your Path to College and Career Readiness, Castagna has learned the importance of taking her future seriously as well as setting her mind on accomplishing what she wants.

“I would advise others who want to accomplish what I have to set their goals, and once they set them, they need to do everything they can to obtain them and keep going for more,” Castagna says. “When I questioned how well I’d do in cyber school, I had teachers like Mr. Williamson who were there to spend three hours helping me with one assignment and encouraging me to be the best I could be. When I questioned whether I would be physically fit enough to attend VMI, I started going to the gym and worked my way up to lifting six-pound weights to bench pressing. It was about setting goals and working towards them every week. More importantly, it was about not letting anyone stand in front of me or tell me that I couldn’t do something.”

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