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Joyce Endee

GHS student follows his heart, joins the military

Dylan Lesnewski (click for larger version)
May 11, 2011
Dylan Lesnewski has managed to plan out the next six years of his life, and now that he has received approval for an early graduation date in 2012, nothing can stop him.

Lesnewski, currently a junior at Gilford High School, has enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He enters basic training on June 14 in Fort Jackson, S.C. He expects to return from training next August, just in time for his senior year a hectic, yet focused schedule of events.

At 17, he already knows what he wants to do with his life, and has taken his own initiative.

"I am looking to be an officer in the U.S. Army in Special Forces. I've wanted to do this for years," said Lesnewski. "I feel that everyone owes a debt to their country; everyone uses the rights they are given, yet when they are asked to put their money where their mouth is, no one wants to do it."

Because Lesnewski has a 3.5 GPA , is ranked 42nd in his class, and is only three credits shy of completing all high school requirements, GHS has recently granted him approval to graduate in March of 2012 to continue training under a six year contract.

After graduation, Lesnewski will then attend his 12-week AIT training, where he will specialize as a petroleum supply specialist. After specialized job training, he is looking to enroll in an Army ROTC program with a full scholarship through a four-year college, such as the University of New Hampshire. The goal is to leave the program commissioned as an officer.

By the time his college education is complete, his six-year contract will come to an end, and he can then re-enlist as an active duty officer.

His mother, Kim Lesnewski, also refers to this period of time as "crunch time" since her son leaves school early this year, comes back just in time to start his senior year, and graduates ahead of his class. To top it off, Lesnewski must also apply to the ROTC college program by next spring, in order to get his applications in before he heads off to training once again.

"I also scored really high on the ASVAB test. I got a 90 out of a possible 99, which is better than 90 percent of the people who take the test. A good 50 people will usually score a 50 or 60 on average," said Lesnewski. "Since I am a junior going into the reserves with a great score, I didn't have two wait the two weeks to get accepted. They moved me right along."

Because of his score, he will also receive an $8,000 sign on bonus, $20,000 in student loan reimbursements, and also funds through the Montgomery GI Bill, based on his scores.

"I've got a nice deal under the six-year contract. The agreement is six years with the reserves and two years in active duty. The way things are set up, I'll come out of college debt free and can retire at 37 with a full pension, yet there is still a high price to pay," said Lesnewski.

Since he started his high school career, Lesnewski said he has felt strongly about his choice to join the military. Although his parents were first skeptical of the ordeal, they have come to terms with their son's decision and are proud of his accomplishments.

"Dylan knew this was something he wanted to do. He had the plan all mapped out and knew what he wanted. At first we weren't sure, but he could do a lot worse, so it's not worth fighting about. He has worked two job, he is a good student and a good kid all the way around," said Kim Lesnewski. "Imagine if all 17 year olds could figure out their future and line up their lives this way."

If a peer on the fence about joining the military were to ask Lesnewski for advice, he would encourage his peer to enlist and try out the different programs the military has to offer.

"The military has so many different jobs to try out. When you finally decide what you like, the military can pay it off," said Lesnewski. "Granted, you might have to give up some time, but it's worth it in the end. You gain pride fighting for your country."

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