By Brandon OConnorFebruary 21, 2019
The U.S. Military Academy is a 47-month experience for cadets as they prepare to become leaders in the Army. With nearly 44 of those 47 months completed, the Class of 2019 took time Feb. 16 to celebrate all they have accomplished at West Point.
Valentine's Day marked exactly 100 days until graduation for the Class of 2019 and to celebrate, the class held the annual 100th Night Banquet and Show Saturday evening.
"This show has allowed us all to reflect back," Cadet Keegan West, who played one of the six leads in the show, said. "Doing it every day has given us the chance to reflect back on what we've gone through and it puts in perspective that we are getting ready to become officers in the Army. These memories we have now are stuff we are going to cherish for the rest of our lives."
The class was joined at the banquet by guest speaker Anthony Noto, USMA Class of 1991, who is the CEO of SoFi and the former COO of Twitter.
"Be present in your last 100 days," Noto said. "Cherish your last 100 days. There will be nothing else like your last 100 days. On everything that is offered, do it. Don't skip. Don't choose to rack out. Don't say I can always do that later. Do it all-every event, every moment, every minute. Graduation is the culmination of four years of hard work, but the last 100 days is really about the celebration of those four years."
Noto also advised the class to take its last 100 days at West Point as a chance to say thank you, as it may be their last chance before leaving the academy.
"Pick 100 people to say 'thank you' to and take 100 photos," he said. "Do one each day and spend time with them when you say it. If you don't say thank you now, you never will. Let them know how they made a difference. The photos will lock in the memories forever."
After the banquet, members of the Class of 2019 performed the 100th Night Show, which is an original play that poked fun at and chronicled their times at West Point from Beast to their final Christmas dinner in the Cadet Mess Hall. The show was entitled "So Graduation Will Reign," a twist on the class's motto "So Freedom Will Reign" and was written by class member Cadet Darnell Anthony Brown Jr.
"It took a lot of writing and hours thinking about how to take all of our different cadet experiences and put it into one culminating event," Brown, who spent about 40 hours writing the play, said. "Every cadet has a unique way of going through the academy from the way they handle their stresses to handling tests and class rank. That was the hardest part; how to make everyone see through every cadets' lenses for the Class of 2019."
Cadets wrote the dialogue and song lyrics for the play and then the West Point Band put the songs to originally scored music to make the show come alive. The entire show was cadet run including the actors, producers and the director, with one of the few exceptions being the Hellcats performing the music.
"It's taken a lot," West said of putting the show together. "There's a lot of behind the scenes stuff not just with the cadets who are acting in it, but the producing, directing, lighting and technical support. It's taken a lot of time and a lot of people have put in the hard work to do this. A lot of our afternoons haven't been free because this is what has been consuming them."
Tryouts were held before Christmas break and the cast had been rehearsing since January before putting on the show for the full class Saturday.
The cast included cadets from all walks of life at West Point including some who have been involved in glee club or gospel choir during their time at the academy as well as a sprint football and a rugby player.
"I went to the 100th Night Show when I was a Plebe and a Cow, and I thought it was pretty interesting," Cadet Jabreal Arrington, who is a member of the ensemble, said of why she got involved. "I like working with my classmates and other people and I like being the center of attention sometimes. Anything I can do to get a laugh is probably going to get done. I think it is a good opportunity to put in some hard work and have something to show for it."
The show included songs such as "Gee, I love Camp Buckner" about training before Yearling year, "We are Kokolakis" about the ever-present construction at West Point and "The Curse of DPE" about physical training courses at USMA.