Miami Trace High School 2020 graduate Kylie Pettit was ranked number one in her class of nearly 1,200 Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy following her first semester.
As previously reported, Pettit graduated from high school just after the last of approximately 1,200 candidates were selected for the academy’s “Plebe” or freshman class. With over 16,000 applications for those 1,200 spots, Pettit, the daughter of Brian and Kelly Pettit, was already showing that she is the cream of the crop and — with this recent ranking — continues to prove just that.
“Here at the Naval Academy there are two different factors that determine our overall ranking, which is known as our Overall Order of Merit (OOM),” Pettit wrote in an email to Miami Trace Local Schools recently. “The first component is the Academic Order of Merit (AOM), which ranks Midshipmen strictly based on the grades they earned in their academic courses for the semester. The second component is the Military Order of Merit (MOM), which has several different components itself.”
Pettit explained that first, it includes the Midshipman’s PE Grade (Fall Semester of Freshman Year the required PE course is Swim) as well as the Midshipman’s score on the mandatory “PRT” taken each semester. The PRT, or Physical Readiness Test, requires Midshipmen to possess both strength and endurance, as it includes the strength exercises planks and push-ups in addition to a 1.5 mile run.
“The next component of the MOM tests the Midshipmen’s ability to learn and retain knowledge about different aspects of the Navy that they will need in order to be competent future Naval or Marine officers,” Pettit wrote. “Each week the Freshmen are given a new subject to study and must then take a ‘Professional Knowledge Quiz’ over the material on Friday night. For example, some week’s topics this year have been the Navy’s customs and courtesies, the characteristics and capabilities of ships, aircraft, and submarines used by the Navy, and the rising global challenges and international threats we are currently facing. The Midshipmen’s scores are recorded each week and compared to the scores of their peers.”
The next component of the Midshipmen’s MOM includes grades awarded by the Company Officer (the Company Officer is a commissioned Officer who is in charge of the company of around 160 Midshipmen) in Aptitude for Commissioning and Conduct. The Aptitude for Commissioning grade is determined by the professionalism and military bearing possessed by the Midshipmen, as observed by the Company Officer. Only a select number of Midshipmen per company can be awarded an “A” for their aptitude grade. The Conduct grade is simply based on whether or not the Midshipman has had any disciplinary action taken on them for violating any rules that semester. All of these individual components are combined to form the Midshipman’s MOM.
“The AOM and MOM are then combined to form the Midshipmen’s OOM,” Pettit wrote. “The OOM is important when it comes time for the Midshipmen’s Service Selection during their Senior Year.”
Service Selection is when Midshipmen put in preferences for which community they would like to commission into, Pettit explained. The main options are Surface Warfare, Submarines, Naval Aviation, and Marine Corps. Select Midshipmen are also commissioned into the Naval Special Warfare (Navy SEALs), Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or Medical Communities. The Midshipmen with higher OOMs are more likely to receive their first preference when they are assigned to their communities. The OOM is also important when applying for competitive internships and training programs over the summer training period.
“I had a 4.0 during my first semester here at the Academy,” Pettit said. “I also received an ‘A’ in both my Aptitude and Conduct Grade, received an ‘A’ in swim, received a perfect score on the PRT, and consistently performed well on Professional Knowledge Quizzes each week. As a result, I was ranked in the number one position of the 1174 total freshmen. We aren’t able to see everyone ranked against each other, we only know our specific ranking. There could be other individuals who are also currently tied for the number one ranking.”
Pettit said she was shocked when she discovered that she had received this ranking.
“It wasn’t at all a goal of mine or something I even imagined I would ever accomplish,” Pettit wrote. “Upon arriving at the Naval Academy, I simply focused on doing everything I could to be the best I could be one day at a time. I knew this was a challenge larger than anything I had ever faced and that I would have to push myself at all times in order to meet the standards. Of course I had days when I got burnt out and slacked off more than I should have, but I always made sure to make up for it the next day. One thing that always kept me going was my determination to prove to myself that I truly deserved to be here. Not many people know, but I was initially wait-listed by the Naval Academy. I didn’t receive my acceptance notification until the last week of May, just a little bit over a month before I was supposed to report for the start of the 8-week initial summer training. I quite literally barely skimmed my way into the Academy and therefore imagined that I would be ‘at the bottom of the barrel’ compared to my peers who had received their acceptances months prior. Rather than dwelling on this fact and letting it fester into self-doubt like I would have done a few short years ago, I used it to push me forward and motivate me to not only succeed, but excel. I always joked that I was going to make the upper leadership and administration of the Academy notice me and think ‘Wow, how did we really almost not let this girl in here?’”
“Never in a million years did I actually think I would stand out compared to the incredible Midshipmen, now some of my best friends, surrounding me each and every day. Regardless of the ranking or the grades I received this past semester, I am most proud of the way I used my initial loss to further motivate myself rather than run from the challenge. I never would have predicted that I would end up here at the Academy, which is why I wake up every morning and acknowledge how fortunate I am. I recognize the amazing opportunities provided to me by this Academy and I hope to take advantage of as many of them as possible during my four years here. To any student who is considering applying to any of the Service Academies, or any other school or program that you believe is ‘out of your reach,’ I say just go for it. Going for it not only includes applying, as things don’t always work out just because we want them too. It also comes with all of the hard work you must do in order to prepare yourself and prove to the institution or program that you have what it takes to rise up to the challenges they will place before you. Hold yourself accountable and fight for what you want.”
For anyone interested in learning more about the Academies, Pettit encourages them to reach out to her and she said she will be happy to answer any and all questions.
“You can email me at email@example.com and I can share more about the experiences I have had here so far or give advice for students looking to apply to the Academies,” Pettit wrote. “I’d love to have some more Miami Trace Alumni around here, and some people who actually know that the little town of Washington Court House exists.”
Finally, Pettit also said to parents that if they are interested in having a son or daughter attend an Academy, do not try to force it on them.
“If your child has questions, he or she can definitely reach out to me to ask questions,” Pettit said. “I also spent hours upon hours finding every bit of information online that I could. Each person who attends school here must have their own internal drive and motivation to succeed. If not, they will never be able to rise to the challenges and keep up with the constant demands of the Academy. Encouragement and support are of course needed, but committing to the Academy is an important decision that your young adult should be ready to make him or herself.”