Competition is stiff for admission at any U.S. military academy, but five seniors at Mesa's Mountain View High School passed inspection this year. Five cadets from the same graduating class could be a state record, although academy recruiters did not have historical data available.
Capt. John Lester, a recruiter for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., said he rarely hears of more than two or three cadets coming from the same high school in the same year.
"I know that five is extremely high," he said.
Frank Antonioli, a guidance counselor at Brophy College Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, agreed that the Mountain View mark this year is impressive.
"Five is a good number," he said. "The academies are very competitive."
The cadets from Mountain View's class of 2008 include Koren Pfeiff, Michael Crimmins, Adam Crotty, Ian Campbell and Brandin Bear.
Pfeiff, who will attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, has known since she was 14 that she wanted to be a pilot.
She said West Point offers some of the best training in the world.
"They have the strongest foundation for helicopter training," Pfeiff said.
Crotty, who will attend the U.S. Naval Academy, said he has always admired military servicemen and women.
"I'm excited to show my loyalty to my country and proud to serve," Crotty said.
Campbell will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colo. He said the Air Force provides the best way to combine a career in aviation with military service.
He also said his decision to serve in the military has a lot to do with his family.
"I have a long family line serving in the military," Campbell said, "so it's always been around."
Crimmins also will attend West Point. He said the training will provide many career opportunities after college and military service.
Bear, also attending the Air Force Academy, said he chose the school because it has a strong track and field team.
He is a Mountain View pole vaulter who finished second in the state last year with a vault of 15 feet, 3 inches. Already this year, Bear has the state's third-highest vault.
"Attending the academy is a great way to set the pace for the rest of your life," he said.
The application process for a U.S. service academy includes many steps beyond that required for a regular university.
Each applicant needs to be endorsed by a U.S. representative or senator, write multiple essays and survive a rigorous interview process.
But the payoff is great.
Service academy appointments include free room and board for four years and have an estimated value of $300,000 to $350,000. An appointment also comes with a guaranteed job after graduation.
During the application process, Pfeiff said she tried to portray a confident attitude that set her apart from other applicants.
"It was tougher because I'm a girl," she said.
Bear said the interview process helped him impress Air Force Academy admissions officials.
"I didn't have the grades or the test scores," Bear said. "It also helped that I was an athlete."
Crotty said that it was his determination that set him apart.
"I'm always trying to put myself above the rest," Crotty said.