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Meet Newark Charter High School’s First Ever Service Academy Appointee


Just six years after opening the doors at its high school, Newark Charter School (NCS) has its first service academy appointee.

As many of his friends in the Class of 2019 are planning to fan out across the country to attend public and private universities, Donovan Hodge will be headed to the United States Air Force Acadamy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Donovan received a nomination to both West Point and the Air Force Academy from Senator Tom Carper, Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blount Rochester (a total of 6 nominations) last December. He is the first student at NCS to apply for, get nominated, and to be appointed to a service academy.

It wasn’t easy, Donovan has been working on this for years, said his mother Heidi. As parents, his father and I have tried to steer him in the right direction but he has put in all of the hard work himself.

Donovan worked his way through scouting, he held a leadership role with the Newark Police Department’s Explorer program, he attended youth police academies with both the Delaware State Police and the Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement.

This year he was the President of Model UN at NCS, attended the Congressional Youth Conference, was a finalist in the Senate Youth week and he attended the Naval Academy Summer Seminar. He also studied abroad in China for a month with 29 other Delaware students and still made time to keep his grades up.

In addition to all of the leadership, cultural and educational work Donovan has put in, he has also had to prepare his body, said mom. Through sports, running, and working out he has been preparing for the rigors of the military.

The formal process started in January of 2018 when Donovan and his family began working on his applications for a nomination to the services academies.  That work led to stacks of paperwork, meetings with leaders, military officials, his teachers, and his college counselor. After gathering all of the appropriate information and checking off all of the boxes it was time to submit.

Later, sometime in the fall of 2018, Donovan sat down with the nomination boards from Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Lisa Blount Rochester’s offices to go over his applications and to answer their questions.  Although he felt good about his interviews he knew that nominations were few and the process was very competitive. He also knew that if he was nominated an appointment wasn’t a guarantee.

With graduation coming up fast, Donovan continued working on his plan b as he waited for word from the nomination boards. Plan b was to apply to dozens of colleges, to look for scholarship money and to look into the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).  Graduating debt free is one of his top priorities, said mom.  As part of his plan b, he toured the University of Delaware and made plans to visit several other universities including his mom’s Alma Mater, Nebraska.

Mom was happy when Donovan received a Nebraska scholarship that covered some of the cost and was later awarded a three-year ROTC scholarship to Nebraska as well.  it was looking like he would head to Lincoln if the nominations didn’t end with an appointment.

Donovan was getting nervous in early January of this year when he learned that all three boards had given their nominations to the United State Naval Academy to other applicants.  His nerves were calmed not long after when he learned that he had received a total of six nominations, three to West Point and three to the Air Force Academy,  Tom Carper, Chris Coon, and Lisa Blount Rochester all nominated Donovan to both service academies.

After months of logging onto the academies’ websites to check the status of his nominations, he got the call. It was in the evening on March 10 when Donovan’s dad handed him the phone, telling him Senator Carper would like to speak with him. His dad being a practical joker Donovan didn’t believe him at first. As the two chatted on the phone, Senator Carper informed  Donovan that he had been appointed to the United States Air Force Academy and congratulated him on his hard work.

Now Donovan would have to make a decision. Would he go to Nebraska and live the normal college experience or head to the Air Force Academy? His decision would become even more complicated a few days later when a letter arrived at his home.  The letter informed Donovan that he’d received a full ride scholarship to the University of Delaware’s (UD) ROTC program.

With the new UD scholarship, the calculus had changed. The Nebraska scholarship only covered three years so mom knew that Donovan would not be headed to Lincoln. Earlier this month Donovan took a second tour of UD and was leaning towards that option. He was making plans to room with one of his Newark Charter School friends at and was looking forward to being close to home. All he needed to do was visit Colorado to confirm his decision.

Last week, mom and Donovan flew out to Colorado to visit the Academy. When they arrived, mom went to some scheduled parent activities and Donovan went on a tour of the school. When they met up a couple of hours later mom knew that he had made his final decision. I could see it in his face, he was going to attend the Academy, mom said.

It’s bittersweet, we all want him to be close by but this is a chance of a lifetime. What a great opportunity this is for him.

In total, Donovan applied for and was awarded over $1.1 million dollars in scholarship money from the military and various colleges throughout the country.  The cost of attending the prestigious military school for four years is approximately $400,000. He will work that off serving as an officer in the United States Air Force after graduation.

My family, the faculty members at NCS, officers in the ROTC program at the University of Delaware and countless others helped me tremendously during the process. said Donovan, I couldn’t have done it without them.

Donovan reports to Basic Cadet Training in Colorado Springs in less than two months.


About Staff Writer

First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at

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