By Kathy Eastwood, West Point Public AffairsJanuary 11, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 11, 2012) -- The U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School's new construction is near completion with the final touches of locker rooms, auditorium and some offices expected to be completed Jan. 11. USMAPS, located at Fort Monmouth, N.J., from 1975 until May 2011, closed due to the Base Realignment and Closure act in 2005.
The last graduating USMAPS class at Fort Monmouth was May 16, 2011.
The new USMAPS building broke ground at West Point in July 2009 and sits where the fuel point for the motor pool once was located just inside the entrance to West Point from Washington Gate.
"It was a team effort when we were moving here," Lt. Col. Michael Rounds, deputy commandant, said. "The Garrison and Dean's Office were a great help to us so we could open in time. We had to bring furniture from the old facility to here, but one thing we made sure to retrieve is the war memorial with names of West Point and USMAPS alumni who died from World War I. We added the names of those killed since 9/11."
Cadet candidates entered USMAPS last July while construction was still going on and endured some challenges through their first semester at their new location.
"The construction of the classrooms was not completed so we had to shuttle cadet candidates to Cullum Hall for classes," Rounds said. "The barracks, dining room and physical education areas were completed by the time the candidates arrived, but we still had to bus them to classes in the morning, back to USMAPS for lunch and again back to (Cullum Hall) for classes. It was a hassle."
Classrooms were completed in early November so now they attend classes at the facility.
"Going back and forth to classes at (central post) was time consuming," said cadet candidate Jordan Komm from Houston. "I'm glad to be staying here."
Komm is a prior service candidate and thinks USMAPS is helping him to transition into a military college.
"I applied myself to my work in high school, but going through the motions of actually studying is helping a lot," he said.
Komm said he had an older brother who attended West Point and the prep school, which encouraged him to apply.
"I'm not sure if I want to make a career out of the military," he said. "But I don't see any negatives yet. At this point, I'm interested in majoring in mechanical engineering, but that may change too."
Although Komm is a former private first class, he praised the cadet cadre who taught basic training.
"I was surprised at how well they did," he said. "Sometimes I would see something that wasn't quite what I was used to and take him/her aside to let him know. They were also willing to learn."
Cadet candidate Ashley Zeitvogel from Grand Forks, N.D., is a self-described "Army brat."
"I come from a military background," Zeitvogel said. "It's a tradition in my family going back to World War I. USMAPS has helped me a lot, especially with my study habits, which have gotten a lot better. The instructors are more available and the relationship with teachers is a lot different."
Zeitvogel said she almost wasn't sure during the USMAPS Reception Day if this was what she wanted.
"But I changed my mind when I went home and saw high school classmates who were still living at home and going to college."
Cadet candidates, by design, don't have much association with West Point cadets.
"Cadets are very busy during the day, so I don't see a lot of interaction except during sport games," Col. Tyge Rugenstein, Commandant and Dean at USMAPS, said.
"The West Point Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Theodore Martin wanted a separation of cadets and cadet candidates. Basically, we treat the candidates as Soldiers. Professional interaction is allowed, such as during basic training when cadets trained the cadet candidates."
A grand opening for the USMAPS facility is being planned in the spring, once the landscaping is complete.