Bend High teen accepted to West Point

First from school in over a decade

Bend HS teen headed to West Point

BEND, Ore. - Getting into college can be a major stress for high school juniors and seniors. They're focused on homework, SATs and college essays.

For one Bend High senior, the road to a post high school education is one not many take on. Braden Bell began the vigorous process of being accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point months ago.

To even start a file at West Point, prospects first have to meet basic eligibility requirements, apply for a nomination from their congressman.

After that, they have to fill out forms, gather letters of recommendation, write essays, and pass a physical and medical tests.

Moore than 15,000 began the process last spring. Only 1,200 will become a new cadet.

Bell recently got a call from Rep. Greg Walden's office.

"He said, 'I have really good news,' and then he just paused for like 30 seconds. I was like, 'What's the good news, sir'?" Bell recalled.

The brief moment felt like an eternity.

"I was just, like, 'Oh, I knew it.' And he was, like, 'You've been accepted,'" Bell said. "My life has definitely changed from here on out."

Shortly after he got the call, Bell phoned his mother to share the good news.

"My whole office just erupted," said Kelsey Bell. "They heard the words, 'He got in!' and I mean people were coming out of the woodwork, just screaming and crying. It was pretty cool."

 "I keep saying I couldn't be prouder, but I actually don't think that's accurate any more, because I don't even know how to be this kind of proud."

She said her son's enthusiasm and dedication is contagious -- traits she said comfort her as he prepares for West Point.

"I'm really struggling to be nervous right now," Kelly Bell said. "Once he is out of my hands and in their hands, then I'll be nervous."

As for Braden, he said: "I don't think someone can not be nervous about going to West Point."

The Bend teen will report to West Point in July, and is expected to graduate in 2018. Bell is thankful for those who have helped him along the way.

"I have to thank everyone around me," Bell said. "I'm determined, but not as determined as I should be sometimes, and those people around me definitely helped me a lot."

Bell plans to study physics, something he said he has grown to enjoy in his classes at Bend High.

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