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Student is academy-bound
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Martinsville High School senior Joseph “Joby” Halpin will be inducted into the U.S. Naval Academy after graduating from high school. Halpin has compiled a 4.4 grade point average and earned other academic honors in addition to being named an all-Piedmont District athlete in track. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville High School senior Joseph “Joby” Halpin said he isn’t nervous about being inducted in the U.S. Naval Academy a month after graduation.

Going there, rather than to a “civilian college,” will make him work harder to help fulfill his potential, he said.

“I want to be the best person I can possibly be,” said Halpin, who received a rare presidential appointment to the Naval Academy. “I don’t want to let any of my talents go to waste.”

As the 17-year-old sees himself, he doesn’t excel in one particular area but is well rounded.

Academically, he has a 4.4 grade point average and scored 1,370 out of 1,600 on the math and critical reading parts of the SAT. He has received the Big M Award (which requires a 3.7 GPA or higher) every year since the fifth grade. He is a member of the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society. He enrolled in the Accelerated College Education (ACE)/Dual Enrollment Program at Patrick Henry Community College beginning his junior year and expects to earn an associate degree before graduating from MHS.

He was named an AP Scholar with Honor in August 2012 (passed four or more AP exams with a 3.25 average) and received a Virginia High School Scholastic Award (3.5 GPA while in varsity sport).

In athletics, he ran cross country at MHS (four years All-Piedmont District, one year team captain); ran indoor track (three years All-Piedmont District in 1,000 meter run); and ran outdoor track (three years All-Piedmont District in 400, 800 and 1,600 meters). He earned a total of 10 varsity letters in those sports. He also lettered one year on the MHS varsity soccer team and one year on the school swim team, and played on the school JV soccer team for one year.

He has placed first or second in several community races: first place overall in the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run in August 2012; first place overall in the 5K Tuff Strutter race at Rooster Walk in May 2012; first place overall for 5K in the Martinsville Half Marathon/5K in March 2011 and March 2012; first place overall in the Martinsville Earth Day 5K Run in April 2011; second place overall for 5K Dan River Autism Awareness in April 2012; and second place overall for 8K in the Danville Half Marathon/8K in November 2011.

His extracurricular and volunteer activities include/included serving as a student member of the Martinsville City School Board, playing electric bass and upright bass (four years) in the MHS Jazz Band and saxophone two years in the MHS Marching Band, earning a total of six varsity letters. He was a Key Club member four years, a political campaign volunteer eight years, a member of the Bear Mountain Picnic bluegrass band and was in the youth group at Christ Church.

He also has worked as a boxmaker at Commonwealth Laminating.

Halpin said he continues to want to achieve and push himself to be his best. “I don’t want to look back and say I cut corners and was lazy.”

“I’m not frightened at all” about going to the Naval Academy, he said. “I know if they put me to the challenge, I’ll be able to do it.”

For years his attitude has been, “If they (someone else) can do it, why can’t I?”

Taking dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses in high school has helped prepare him for the academics of the Naval Academy; sports, especially running, have helped prepare him for the physical regimen of the Naval Academy; and leadership skills, fair-mindedness and time-management skills he has learned from serving on the school board and other activities have helped prepare him for other aspects of the Naval Academy, he said.

Academics, regimented schedules, physical training, leadership and professional development, and emphasis on integrity and honor are among the things that Halpin said attracted him to the Naval Academy.

The U.S. News & World Report 2013 College Rankings Report ranked the Naval Academy 14th best among national liberal arts colleges. The Naval Academy had an acceptance rate of 7.5 percent in fall 2011, the sixth lowest (or toughest) in the country, following Curtis Institute of Music (3.2 percent), Juilliard School (6.0 percent), Harvard University (6.3 percent), Columbia University (7.0 percent) and Stanford University (7.1 percent), according to the report.

Seven percent of the 20,601 applicants for undergraduate admissions to the Naval Academy for fall 2012 were accepted, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. (The exact number of students accepted was not listed, but 7 percent would be roughly 1,442.)

Halpin said the application process for the Naval Academy was rigorous, requiring, among other things, academic credentials, recommendations, an essay, a congressional or presidential nomination, a detailed interview (his lasted more than two hours), a fitness test, medical and eye exams and review by a medical review board.

He will be inducted at the Naval Academy June 27 and begin the demanding Plebe Summer.

To help him better prepare for the Plebe Summer, Halpin regularly does a physical training routine that includes doing four sets of 30 pushups, running a mile warm-up, running an average of five miles and doing a 15-minute core workout of sit-ups, bicycles, crunches and planks, he said.

Here’s part of what the Naval Academy website says about Plebe Summer: “For the next seven weeks, you start your days at dawn with an hour of rigorous exercise and end them long after sunset, wondering how you will make it through the next day. Forget television, leisure time or movies. You will have barely enough hours in the day to finish your assigned plebe tasks!

“It gets you ready for your responsibilities when the brigade returns from summer training and the academic year begins. The summer also builds the foundation for the tangible and intangible qualities that make an outstanding naval officer. You learn self-discipline. You learn to organize your time and decide which things are most important. You reach top physical condition. You develop your ability to think clearly under stress and to react quickly when the unexpected comes your way.”

And the Naval Academy website lists this typical weekday schedule for the academic year: “5:30 a.m., arise for personal fitness workout (optional); 6:30 a.m., Reveille (all hands out of bed); 6:30 - 7 a.m., special instruction period for plebes; 7 a.m., morning meal formation; 7:15 a.m., morning meal; 7:55-11:45 a.m., four class periods, 50 minutes each; 12:05 p.m., noon meal formation; 12:10 p.m., noon meal; 12:50 - 1:20 p.m. company training time; 1:30 - 3:30 p.m., fifth and sixth class periods; 3:45 - 6 p.m., varsity and intramural athletics, extracurricular and personal activities (drill and parades twice weekly in the fall and spring); 6:30 - 7:15 p.m., evening meal; 8-11 p.m., study period; midnight, Taps for all midshipmen.”

Halpin aims to become a naval officer.

He said he plans to major in ocean engineering, which, according to the Naval Academy website, “combines facets of the traditional civil and mechanical engineering disciplines to design systems and structures for operation in the marine environment.”

Halpin said he is excited about going to the Naval Academy, as are his father, Tim Halpin, who served 20 years in the Air Force and Army, and his mother, Rachel Halpin.


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