Two WCDS Seniors Preparing for Military Academies

Two WCDS Seniors Preparing for Military Academies

It’s been said that sometimes the hardest things in life are the things most worth doing.

Spend a few minutes with Wayne Country Day seniors Mance Edmondson and Jacob Gribbin, and it doesn’t take long to conclude that these two young men embrace opportunities that may be challenging, uncomfortable, and at the same time immensely rewarding.

Two of just 23 seniors at Wayne Country Day, longtime friends Edmondson and Gribbin, have embodied leadership, discipline, and perseverance throughout their high school careers.

Edmondson and Gribbin have reaped the rewards of their admirable characteristics in the form of assignments to military academies.

Edmondson has received an appointment to the United States Military Academy, while Gribbin is headed to the United States Air Force Academy.

“I’m incredibly proud of them for wanting to serve our country,” said Joy Bayles, Wayne Country Day teacher and Senior Class Advisor. “I’ve been so incredibly impressed with the way they carry themselves, how mature they are, and how they have remained humble and grounded during this process. They don’t see what a big deal this is, but I do. I have never seen two seniors in any graduating class get appointments (to military academies.) I’ve seen one here or one there, but this is unheard of, two in the same graduating class, and there are only 23 in their graduating class.”

Edmondson is following in the footsteps of his brother-in-law who attended West Point, and Edmondson’s younger brother Eli, a junior at Wayne Country Day, has committed to swim at the Military Academy.

Growing up in Goldsboro surrounded by active-duty military members and veterans, Edmondson was influenced by the vital role the military plays in the fabric of Wayne County.

I’ve grown up in Goldsboro my whole life and I’ve had a lot of friends with parents in the Air Force”,” Edmondson said. “I think that kind of started me wanting to be in the military, and then my brother-in-law went to West Point, and I think that started getting me looking at the academies, and I just really liked it.”

Gribbin, originally from England, completed the requirements to become a United States citizen during his junior year of high school. His great-grandfather was in the Royal Air Force, and the opportunity to represent and defend the country he now calls “home,” was one Gribbin was honored to accept.

“Growing up here in an Air Force town played a big role in my decision,” Gribbin said. “Seeing planes flying all the time is pretty awesome. Getting to know a lot of people in the Air Force and hearing about their experiences has made me want to do that.”

Edmondson and Gribbin’s respective application and interview processes to West Point and the Air Force Academy consisted of multiple essays, interviews, a fitness test, and plenty of patience while waiting to learn if they had been accepted to the schools of their dreams.

While Gribbin received a letter of assurance from the Air Force Academy putting some of his uncertainty at rest, Edmondson waited nearly six months before learning of his acceptance into the United States Military Academy.

“It’s like four applications in one because you have to apply to your senators and representatives to get nominations,” Edmondson said. “Then you have to apply to the actual school. For the school, you have a fitness test you have to do. One of the interviews was kind of scary, I went in there and there was like 20 or 25 people sitting at this super long table, and I was at the end of it. That one was a bit scary. I found out I had gotten into West Point in maybe mid-February, and I submitted my application in August. It was getting difficult towards the end, everyone was starting to find out where they were going to school, and it was kind of weird not knowing where I was going to go. It was kind of scary at times.”

The collective list of accomplishments Edmondson and Gribbin have compiled while in high school reads like a master class in time management and aspiration. The pair both have weighted grade point averages above 4.5, they’re each involved in Wayne Country Day’s student government, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Edmondson and Gribbin are both members of the swim and cross-country teams at Wayne Country Day. Edmondson has twice been named the Coastal Plain Independent Conference swimmer of the year. Gribbin has served as captain of the swimming and cross-country teams, while also competing as a member of the varsity tennis team.

Gribbin has earned his Eagle Scout, and along with Edmondson, he has served as a leader for younger students with Younglife. Both Edmonson and Gribbin have worked as lifeguards at Walnut Creek Country Club.

Juggling an impressive balance of academics, athletics, extracurricular activities, and community service has helped prepare Edmondson and Gribbin for the rigorous schedule and demands of attending a military academy.

“I have always been really disciplined,” Edmondson said. “I’m a swimmer, and that’s a lot of early mornings, long practices, and I think that has really helped me to have the self-discipline to push through things.”

Along with everything else they manage to cram into their schedules, Edmondson and Gribbin own a landscaping company that focuses on mowing yards and providing customers with pine straw. The experience has deepened their appreciation for the rewards that accompany hard work, and they’ve gained valuable knowledge from interacting with customers.

“We’ve started doing pine straw, there’s woods around our houses,” Gribbin said. “We started going out and raking it up and selling pine straw. That’s what we do most of the time now. It just started off with mowing grass every now and then, and it kind of just grew as people asked us to do stuff. Time management is a skill and prioritizing things when you have more to do than you possibly can, and it’s going to be a lot like that at the academies with so much going on. Having practice with that and not being overwhelmed and breaking things down and getting things done as you can, I think will be really crucial for both of our successes.”

As they prepare to conclude their successful high school careers and begin living out their dreams as cadets, every moment spent studying, impacting a younger student, swimming, running, serving through student government, and mowing yards has molded them into the type of young people capable of representing Wayne Country Day, Wayne County, and their country in all the right ways.

“It’s a tall order,” Gribbin said. “I think we’re not doing it single-handedly by any means, so I think it’s going to feel like a team sport. You’re going to be proud to be on a winning team.”