United States Naval Academy midshipman visits St. Cloud Elementary School

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Photo Courtesy of Cynthia Cumming
Dylan Pennell with students in Caroline Stoner’s fourth-grade class at St. Cloud Elementary School.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School Class of 2014 alumnus Dylan Pennell paid a special visit to St. Cloud Elementary School on May 13 to spend some time with his former fourth-grade teacher, Caroline Stoner, and share his journey to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis with her students.

Pennell shared how a “famous New Jerseyan” project on Adm. William Halsey in Stoner’s fourth-grade class introduced him to the Navy and the Naval Academy.

“After talking about the project, I spent some time talking about my experiences at the Naval Academy so far,” Pennell said in a press release. “I encouraged the students to keep an open mind and take full advantage of the opportunities provided in class and by the schools. Then I had the privilege of answering their many well-thought out and engaging questions.”

Pennell, one of the top graduates in his class at WOHS, was also instrumental in establishing the extremely popular Jr. Air Force ROTC program, now heading into its fourth year. Several graduates joined the military and are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Graduates are also currently attending the U.S. Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and West Point.

“As for the ROTC program, I’m ecstatic that the program has become so firmly integrated into the school, and is so well appreciated by the West Orange community,” Pennell said. “I can only hope it continues to grow and be able to offer the students of West Orange High School the chance to develop critical life skills and become part of a close knit group of hardworking people.”

Pennell’s mother, Suzanne Pennell, also a teacher, fondly recalled her son’s experiences in the West Orange School District.

“Because of an important unit of study taught by a great teacher, an inspiration to pursue a dream was begun, and encouraged and supported, not just by Mrs. Stoner but so many of Dylan’s teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, coaches and BOE members. Our schools provide our kids an excellent education, and the legacy of that excellence is not just found in test scores. You never know just how a student might be inspired.”