Eagle Valley High School valedictorian Sebie Witt is West Point-bound
He’s the third Witt sibling to attend a U.S. military academy, but his reasons for doing so are decidedly his own
In about a month, Eagle Valley High School valedictorian Sebie Witt is headed to the United States Military Academy at West Point — a first-rate accomplishment that is all his own.
Normally that would go without saying, but in Sebie’s case, the distinction is necessary. He will be the third Witt sibling to earn an appointment to a U.S. military academy. His brother Ben is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. Earlier this week, his brother David graduated from West Point.
Sebie noted that throughout his high school career, people asked if he planned to attend the Air Force Academy to round out the family experience.
“When I started looking at colleges, it was funny because I knew more about the military academies than any other colleges. That is backwards from most people,” he said. “But the last thing I want to do was go to a military academy because my brothers did and then end up hating it.”
Determined to make his own decision and forge his own path, Sebie launched his college search. After extensive research he narrowed his choices down to three schools — West Point, Annapolis or Brown University. At Brown, he had an offer for a full-ride ROTC scholarship. So together with his mom and dad — Mary and Paul Witt of Eagle – he visited all three schools over spring break.
“I wanted to try to at least get a feel for all of them,” Sebie said. “West Point just felt right.”
“Brown is a fantastic school. I am not taking anything away from it,” he continued. “But I didn’t see that same connection among the students. At West Point, everyone was with four or five other people and they looked like they were really enjoying their day with each other. It seemed like everyone there had a place and everyone knew they had a purpose.”
Sebie could see himself fitting into that scene at West Point, so for that reason, he made his choice.
“I am doing the same thing that David did and largely for the same reasons as David’s,” Sebie said. “But at West Point, I don’t want to be thinking about how my experience compares to David’s experience and I want everyone else to think the same thing. I don’t want to be David Witt’s little brother at West Point.”
But David and Sebie have already circled the date for Dec. 11. That will be the first time they will team up against their brother Ben to watch a certain football contest.
“The Army-Navy game is going to be a fun time,” Sebie said.
Having two brothers with military academy experience is, in turns, an advantage or an annoyance for Sebie. On the plus side, Sebie believes he has a more realistic idea about the daily rigor that lies ahead than the average plebe. Life at West Point is not all formal parades and the Army-Navy football game.
“I would hope I am a little more prepared mentally for all the challenges,” Sebie said. “David has given me a list of things from what boots to get to how to not get yelled at. But as much as I appreciate having the inside scoop, I do want to learn things for myself.”
Even with the first-hand advice, or perhaps because of it, Sebie has some very specific trepidation.
“I am nervous about when I do make mistakes, even small ones, how I will catch heat for it. I will have to learn from it and move on, but I really don’t like to make mistakes,” he said. “That, and the humidity, is what I am nervous about.”
Sebie doesn’t yet know what his military focus will be, but his initial interests are different from both Ben and David. Ben is currently enrolled in the United States Marine Corps Flight School at Pensacola, Florida. Following his graduation last Saturday, in the fall David will be headed to Fort Rucker Alabama for flight school.
“Hopefully I will become a helicopter pilot. Maybe some day I will be coming back here to work at HAATS (the High Altitude Army Training Site located at the Eagle County Regional Airport),” David said.
Sebie’s extracurricular interests are also his own. While all of the Witt boys competed in karate while they lived in Eagle, Sebie took his interest in the sport further, ultimately competing in international venues. West Point has a Tae Kwon Do team and Sebie plans to check into that option.
“I think I would like to be involved in a sport,” Sebie said. “I am really glad that I had the chance to do football and lacrosse this year in high school. That has been a huge leadership and team experience that I haven’t gotten from karate the past few years. I am really grateful for that. I think it helped prepare me for West Point.”
Top of his class
Sebie, like all his classmates at Eagle Valley, is coming off an unusual academic year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We all came to realize we have a greater appreciation for our friends and just being around people,” he said. “It was hard to feel like you are staying disciplined when you have control over your schedule three days a week. We you don’t have to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, it is very hard to make yourself get up at 6:30 in the morning.”
“I am really glad we get to have a full, no restrictions graduation,” he added.
His valedictorian speech is all ready and after he delivers it Saturday morning, Sebie has nothing firm on his schedule until he reports to basic training at West Point at the end of June. “That will be six weeks of no phones but a lot of running and lots of push-ups and sit-ups in between,” he said.
As he prepares to leave the valley for his big adventure, Sebie offered a shout-out to his teachers and friends.
“This valley is just really connected and it has a really strong sense of community. Everybody takes pride in being from the Eagle Valley. It’s something I am very proud of,” Sebie said.
And finally, at the end of his local education, Sebie demonstrated he knows how to set himself apart from his siblings, even when they share the same experience. He is the only valedictorian among the Witt brothers.
“The third time’s the charm,” he said.