The yearlong effort paid off last month, when he received the official appointment in a leather, gold-lettered folder, indicating he had been accepted as a member of West Point’s Class of 2016.
On the day the notification arrived, his parents, Roger and Beth Donmoyer of Hagerstown, eyed the thick, priority-mail package as they waited more than four hours for their son to get home from school.
Michael, 18, usually gets home at about 12:30 p.m., and takes three online college courses in the afternoons. On Feb. 13, however, he had a student council meeting to lead as president then stopped for a milkshake, arriving home at about 4:30 p.m.
When he got home and saw the envelope, Michael said he was nervous until he opened it.
“It was really exciting. It was a huge relief after a yearlong process,” he said.
“We were excited and proud that he was able to see the realization of that goal,” Roger Donmoyer said.
Michael has been a student at Heritage since kindergarten and has received only “A’s” there.
Once Michael decided he wanted to attend West Point, he took honors classes, the three Advanced Placement classes now offered at Heritage and increased his extracurricular activities.
In addition to student council, he is vice president of National Honor Society, captain of the boys soccer team, has been stage manager and acted in school productions, and has gone on mission trips since he was a sophomore.
Michael is involved with the youth group at Cornerstone Bible Church in Greencastle, Pa., and has volunteered at the Hagerstown Rescue Mission and with the annual Convoy of Hope.
The yearlong application process began with a pre-candidate questionnaire, which was completed by about 50,000 students. Of those, 12,000 completed the application, and half that number passed the challenging physical screening.
Only 4,000 applicants received the required nomination from their senator or congressman. Michael’s nomination came from U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.
At that point, West Point issued letters to 2,000 candidates to let them know they qualified to continue the process. Michael was one of 1,200 to receive appointments.
“West Point was always my first choice,” said Michael, who also applied to the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, Wheaton College, University of Maryland and Northwestern University.
He said it was while reading military history that he felt called to serve.
Michael is the first Heritage Academy student to receive an appointment to a military academy, although some have received ROTC scholarships.
“His persistence is one of the good characteristics about him. Not many students have that. The support of his parents has really backed that up,” Principal Dewitt Powell said.
Michael, who wants to major in international relations, with the goal of working in military intelligence, will visit the academy in April.