Kickapoo High School senior follows in footsteps of brother, father to U.S. Air Force Academy
In the Snider household in Springfield, some of the best things come in threes.
Kickapoo High School senior Jack Snider recently accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
He is the third member of his immediate family to accept an appointment to one of the nation's military academies.
Snider will follow in the footsteps of brother John Robert "J.R." Snider, a 2019 graduate of Kickapoo also appointed to the U.S Air Force Academy; and his father, John Snider, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy known as West Point.
"It really became a goal when I was at my brother's Senior Recognition Assembly and I saw that he got accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy," Jack Snider recalled of the event his sophomore year.
"It really inspired me to do everything for the academy — to get more involved in school, get leadership positions, study more for the ACT and AP exams. That is when it became a goal."
The hard work paid off because Snider had his pick. He was also offered appointment to West Point.
"Both academies have the same goal, to produce great leaders with good character," he said.
Jack Snider said he chose the U.S. Air Force Academy because of its setting, nestled in the mountains near Colorado Springs, and he wants to become a pilot. "I chose the Air Force Academy because the environment is more suiting to me."
Every year, more than 12,000 students apply for the U.S. Air Force Academy and only 1,000 or so are selected. The training and education is valued at more than $400,000 and includes tuition, room and board, medical care, and a monthly stipend.
Ratthima “Natalie” Snider, the mother of Jack and J.R. marveled at her sons' success.
"There are many high school seniors in the southwest Missouri area, who are highly qualified, (and) applied for these appointments," she said. "We don’t know how many of them got appointed."
She said U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt "called to let Jack know about the West Point appointment early on, in January" and U.S. Sen. John Hawley nominated the Kickapoo senior for the U.S. Air Force.
U.S. Rep. Billy Long nominated Jack Snider for "all academies," she said.
Jack's father, John Snider, and his grandfather, Clarence Snider, served in the U.S. Army and retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. His grandfather on his mom's side, Airgas Manalert, was a commander in the Royal Thai Navy.
None nudged Jack or his older brother into the military.
Snider said after he was offered an appointment, he turned to his brother and father for advice.
"My brother told me to start working out a lot more and running more to be physically prepared," he said. "My dad told me to just stick with it, you got to have a grinding mentality and you just can't give up. You've got to try your best on everything and stay motivated."
Jack's brother J.R. will not be at the Air Force Academy this coming school year. He will be at West Point as part of a cadet exchange program. In the 1980s, Jack's father John was halfway through his appointment at West Point when he was offered the opportunity to study at the Air Force Academy as part of the same exchange program.
"They are coming into a full circle," said Natalie Snider.
Asked if the success of his father and brother add any pressure, Jack Snider said no. "I just focus on how well I can do and what I can do to the best of my ability."
He said after so much togetherness with his family during the pandemic, the move to a campus hundreds of miles away will require an adjustment. "I'll push through and they will be motivating me through phone calls and texts."
Jack Snider said he'll miss his friends in Springfield but will make new ones. He said he appreciates the opportunities he received at Kickapoo.
At Kickapoo, Jack was involved in Future Business Leaders of America, DECA, Scholar Bowl, National Honor Society, Chief mentors, the writing center and Kickapoo U, which offers a slew of dual credit and advanced courses.
He did well academically and earned a 32, out of a possible 36, on the ACT. He played golf and ran cross country.
"At the Air Force Academy, I plan to study civil engineering because I really like the field. I took an internship through Kickapoo University and it showed me that I need to be an engineer," he said. "After the Air Force Academy, I plan on going to flight school and becoming a pilot."
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to email@example.com.