Manassas Park senior Jacob Williams has been accepted to the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point—the first student in the small high school's history to do so.
Jacob, along with his family, were recognized on Monday night before the Manassas Park City School Board.
He began talking about going to West Point as a sophomore, but his parents didn’t take him seriously back then, he said while smiling.
Jacob began the application process as a senior, but thought his dream of attending the highly-touted military institution was finished after he didn’t get a congressional nomination; a requirement to be considered.
But last month, he got a call from U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf’s office—a call that proved to be a turning point in his young life.
He’d been selected as the alternate nominee after the first nominee declined or was disqualified, Jacob said.
He was officially accepted to West Point on March 1, he said.
Jacob, a standout student who is frequently on the honor roll, said he draws his strength and inspiration from a quote by Sylvester Stallone’s character Rocky Balboa,from the iconic “Rocky” films.
“ … but it ain’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.”
The teen will leave his family in July for a six-week cadet training. Classes at West Point begin in August.
He’ll get to come home for visits three times during his first year, Jacob said.
Jacob’s parents John and Audrey Williams said they are proud of their son, and contribute much of his success to the teachers of Manassas Park City Schools.
“They are called by God,” Audrey Williams said of the educators.
“The teachers don’t have to be here,” John Williams said. “Our school system is one of the best.”
Even though Manassas Park is a small town, they employ some of the best people, he added.
The couple remembers moving to Manassas Park in 1996 when Jacob was just a 1-year-old. Their younger son, John, a member of the award-willing Manassas Park Vex Robotics team, wasn’t yet born, Audrey Williams said.
The success of the school system was a dream of now-retired Superintendent Dr. Thomas DeBolt who promised them that year that the school system would improve.
“He said to us, ‘If you believe in me and give me a few tax dollars, I’ll build you a good school system,’” John Williams said.
She’s glad her boys listen to their teachers and are obedient children; but she does make sure they do their homework, Audrey Williams said.
“They do well, but you have to stay on them; keep them focused. Don’t let them get too comfortable,” she said.