FRONTENAC — Frontenac High School Cale Franklin waited anxiously for an email to arrive which would be a deciding factor in his career.
Cale knew he wanted to be a pilot since approximately fifth grade, where he became fascinated with airplanes and flying after an air and water show in Chicago. He had seen Air Force fighter jets, among several other planes which fostered his fascination with flying.  
As a high school student, Cale had to figure out how to become a pilot, and two options came up — the United States Air Force Academy or the United States Naval Academy.
Both of these academies could provide Cale with a four-year college degree and might help him reach the skies.
For Cale, he had his heart set for the Air Force Academy, but with a low acceptance rate, getting into the academy of his dreams could be quite difficult.
So Cale decided to apply for both — a “long journey” which began three years ago.
Cale was accepted into both.
The email for the Naval Academy came in first in February and he waited to accept it just in case he would be accepted into the Air Force Academy. In March — during spring break — Cale opened his email to find that he was accepted into the Air Force Academy.
He chose the Air Force Academy, which Cale said was “more inclined to flight.”“
“Getting into both was an honor, I never dreamed of getting into one, let alone two,” he said.  “It really was an honor to be accepted to both.”

Three years back
Going back three years ago, Cale began to fill out extensive applications for each academy. Each academy had its own requirements and processes.
Cale had to submit his transcript with his grade point average, ACT scores, detailed resume that outlines his achievements in high school, community service hours and other activities he’s involved in. He also had to write three essays and had to have a fitness assessment.
Also included in the applications were five letters of recommendation, two from his teachers and three from community members. Cale also had to be nominated and interviewed by a senator or congressperson, which he also had to send recommendations.
Cale not only did all of this once, he did it for both academies.
Cale and his councilor Jennifer Niederklein spent hundreds of hours — if not it has felt like it — working on the applications. Cale described it as a “college application on steroids.”
“With every set back, he has had a positive attitude, with every question, every correction that had to be made, he did not give up,” Niederklein said.  “He has been a tremendous person to get to know and work with, I have no doubt he will serve our country as well as he has served Frontenac Schools and our community, we are very proud of him.”
Niederklein said the acceptance rate is low for both academies “to be accepted into one of them is amazing, to get accepted into two and have that choice, is amazing."
Along with the applications, Cale took a campus tour of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs last year during spring break.
“I saw everything it had to offer and fell in love with it,” he said.
In addition to the college visit he also went to a Naval summer academy. The academy invites a handful of applicants to join in on a week-long seminar. At the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, he took sample courses, basic military training and toured navigation.
After graduation from the Air Force Academy, Cale will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force and will have a five year service commitment. Cale said he plans to study aerospace engineering at the academy, where he will have pilot training. He’s expected to graduate May 2023.

Leadership
According to his councilor, “Cale has proven himself not only on paper but also in his character and leadership roles.”
Cale has been the president of National Honor Society and Interact Club.
“Both of those have given me many opportunities to volunteer and get connected within the community,” he said.
He is also involved in Student Council and he has played basketball, baseball and ran in cross country — all varsity.
The academies encourage applicants to play in varsity sports in high school. When he gets to the academy Cale is expected to be involved in a D1, intramural or club sport, for physical and teamwork aspects, he said.
Cale has also taken it upon himself to create something with the community in mind, Niederklein said.
Last year, he helped create a food drive for the Sacred Heart Church food pantry. Cale has also took time before school to read to elementary students who need an older person to read with them.
“He was doing this on top of everything else he was doing on his own, he was community minded where the needs were to help,” Niederklein said.
Cale praised his parents Dustin and Teresa Franklin, for it was their expectations which helped guide his journey to college. He also mentioned that his involvement at his church, PittNaz, taught him about integrity.
“Doing the right thing even when nobody's watching, doing a good thing for no expected gift, that’s really been my motivating factor for all of this, and it is one of the main values of the Air Force — integrity, service before self and excellence in all that you do,” Cale said. “Those core values have been instilled in me.
“I believe that going to the Air Force Academy will push those even further because the Air Force produces some of the best leaders in the nation and they stress the importance of moral character.”
Cale said he’s excited and ready to report on June 27. He will go to basic cadet training and he will start his academic year in August.
“I’ve had so much support from my councilor, different teachers in this school who have proofread all of my essays, that have supported me along the way, and numerous community members and my family have been a huge support of this,” he said. “I just want to thank all of these people for believing in me and helping me out through this entire process.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. To nominate someone for Patrick's People send an email to patrickspeople@morningsun.net