Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Meet Jack Lavely

Since he was a freshman in high school, Jack Lavely has known that he wanted to attend one of the United States military academies and follow in the footsteps of his father, a military officer. Jack, a solid student and a talented athlete, enrolled in his local high school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program—considered by many to be the best public high school in the area. While Jack enjoyed some of his classes in the program, he felt a lack of support in others. So after his sophomore year, Jack made the difficult decision to change schools and enroll in Shorecrest halfway through high school.
 
He knew changing schools would be a challenge, and he also knew it was the right decision. “When I walked onto Shorecrest’s campus it felt very peaceful—you could see this comradery between the faculty and the student body,” which was something that Jack said he was missing at his prior school.

Once he started classes in the fall of his junior year, he immediately felt at home, “It was definitely a relief! [Before] I was being challenged to memorize facts, stats, and vocabulary just to make the grade instead of truly understanding the material. It felt like it was rigorous just for the sake of being rigorous.”
 
He went on to describe the difference in his two high school experiences. “I took three Advanced Placement (AP) classes in my junior year and four this year—it’s not like I slacked off or anything! But it was definitely nice to slow down here. There is this atmosphere at Shorecrest that is really conducive to learning and enjoying the material. THAT was the piece that I did not have at my last school. Before I enjoyed the classes in the subjects I liked, but hated the classes in the subjects I didn’t like. Here at Shorecrest, I haven’t had a class that I didn’t enjoy!”

While tackling a formidable schedule, Jack also ran track, was a member of the swim team and Theater Honors Society, campaigned door to door for a Congressman and was one of 200 high schoolers who attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington D.C.
His favorite courses are those in the humanities, “I’m very into politics, government, history, poetry, those kinds of things,” he says. Jack’s love of government led him to take Kurt Wahlgren’s AP Comparative Government—a study of the governments of six different countries. “I was just fascinating to learn about these different governing systems. Because Mr. Wahlgren has lived in and taught in a number of other countries, he has a very interesting perspective.”
 
As he delved into life at Shorecrest, Jack was also focused on beginning the process of applying to colleges. After doing a lot of research and speaking with his father, Jack decided his first choice was the United States Military Academy, commonly known as West Point. Jack’s father was a United States Naval Academy graduate, who went on to join the Air Force, but Jack said his father was completely behind his decision to break tradition and join the Army. “My dad was very supportive. When I was researching the different academies, I looked up the curriculum and what I could study at each school and I discovered that the Naval and Air Force academies are both engineering, math, and science focused, whereas at West Point, the curriculum is broader.” As a student very interested in humanities, Jack was excited about the prospect of taking courses in strategy, psychology and warfare.

Once he decided that West Point was his end goal, Jack began the rigorous application process. Each year, over 10,000 candidates begin the application process at West Point, but to be considered for admission at West Point, candidates must receive a nomination from a representative in Congress, a U.S. Senator, or the Vice President of the United States. Only 4,000 of the 10,000 initial candidates are able to obtain these nominations. Of those 4,000 nominated, only 1,200 are admitted into the incoming class. “It was a long and arduous journey!” he says with a nervous laugh. “It was worth it in the end, but it was pretty intense!”
 
As for that moment when he discovered he’d made it into West Point? Jack smiles, “I’d describe that as one of the best moments of my life! It made me feel like it was all worth it. You’re not sure when you transfer at the end of your sophomore year. You wonder ‘Is this going to hurt me? What if things aren’t better?’ But getting that letter really brought things full circle. I did take the right path. I made the right decisions. I achieved my goal. And when I got that letter, all my Shorecrest teachers and peers celebrated with me--it was a great experience.”
 
At West Point, Jack is excited to continue expanding his knowledge of government and strategy, by pursuing a major in defense and strategic studies, with a concentration in either counter terrorism or warfare. “Ultimately, I’d love to have a career in special operations—which has been a passion of mine since I was young,” he explains. But Jack hasn’t yet decided if he’s going to serve his five-year commitment and leave the military or be a career military officer. “I could see myself going either way!” he says. “I have a general idea of the things I want to do in life, but I don’t have a set timeline that dictates when I need to do them. I’m more of a ‘what feels right at the time’ kind of guy.”
Right now, Jack is just excited to begin Cadet Basic Training on July 1st. Affectionately known as “Beast”, Cadet Basic Training will mold the incoming West Point cadets into military men and women, before they begin classes in mid-August. “I’m not really nervous, because I know it’s going to be awful. No matter how much you try to prepare for it, you’re going to have some culture shock when you go to basic training—it’s meant to tear you down and then build you back up. I’ll just take it as it comes!”
 
What will he miss most about Shorecrest? “I think I’ll miss the way you feel like everyone is in it together,” Jack says. “There’s a very positive, uplifting environment.” That same feeling of community is exactly why Jack has chosen to attend West Point, but he adds, “I think that it is pretty unique for a high school to have that same environment.”
 
We’re sure to see great things out of Jack Lavely in the coming years, but despite his accomplishments to date, he remains quite humble, “I just want to serve the country, and I want to make sure the people here are safe and can go about their lives. I want to make a difference, and hopefully, by becoming a military officer, I’ll get the chance to do that.”

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.