By Bonnie Mentel

Hunter Hotaling, 13, is a seventh grader at Bell Creek Academy. He was chosen from among hundreds of applicants to participate in the West Point Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Workshop this summer at the United States Military Academy in New York. Students who attend the workshop have demonstrated strong academic performance and have shown a preference to attend college in the future. Teacher recommendations were also necessary for acceptance into the program.

 Hunter’s Honors Science teacher, Shannon Fest, said, “I was so excited when Hunter shared the news of his acceptance with me. I am so proud of Hunter and all he has accomplished. His enthusiasm for science is contagious. Hunter is an extremely inquisitive, creative and energetic young man who is very determined. He will go on to do great things and I can’t wait to see what life has in store for him.”

 Students attending the exclusive middle school program will get to participate in hands-on learning activities that focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Academy faculty and cadet mentors will facilitate the classes.

 When asked what made him decide to apply for the workshop, Hunter said, “I thought it would be a good experience for me. West Point is arguably the most prestigious institution in the country and I wanted to apply to the best STEM camp I could.”

 It seems natural that Hunter would be interested in a military academy. His mother, Mary Ann Hotaling, is an Army veteran who now works as a school teacher. His father, a Major in the Army, is currently assigned to Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

“I am hoping that this will give me a good idea of which colleges I might want to apply to in a few years. I am going to learn more about science and engineering and if this is a path I want to pursue in the future. It is also an opportunity to meet other military kids and make new friends,” Hunter said.

 Hunter added that he is very grateful for this opportunity. He is also thankful to the teachers who recommended him for it.

 For more information about the West Point STEM Workshop, visit http://www.usma.edu/pne/sitepages/summer%20programs.aspx.