As hard as this is to fathom, Lyndhurst has never had a female head to the United States Military Academy at West Point since women were eligible for admission, dating back to 1976, when the late President Gerald R. Ford signed a law ending what was, until then, all men.
But in a few weeks, that reality will change when Casey Cirne, a Lyndhurst High School senior, five days after graduation, will head to upstate New York.
For Cirne, who is the student-body president at Lyndhurst HS and a member of the cross-country and outdoor track teams, it’s the ultimate realization of a dream she first came to know when she was a freshman, though she didn’t tell her mother until her sophomore year.
“I knew my first year of high school but it’s been my mindset for four years of high school,” Cirne says. “I kept it quiet until my sophomore year and as soon as I said something to my mother, she was amazingly supportive. She said, ‘OK, what do we need to do?’ She hired me a personal trainer and got a gym membership for me.”
Mom, Maria, tells us she also has been able to do an impressive number of chin-ups.
“It was six or eight, but it’s an excellent number for a female,” Maria says.
But we digress.
Why, then, would a girl in her teens want to go into the military? For Cirne, there wasn’t a second of hesitation in her answer when we asked.
“I always liked structure and there is a lot of structure in the military,” Cirne says. “And, in four years, I would graduate with a degree as a second lieutenant with 100% job placement with the ability to serve my country. Little else made sense.”
Cirne says though she’ll be fully trained, it’s unlikely she’d ever seen active combat. She plans to major in engineering, and she hopes to go to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where, currently, 37,000 people — civilian and commissioned — work in 130 countries worldwide, with responsibilities for keeping America’s infrastructure sound and for building “military facilities where our servicemembers train, work and live.”
To be admitted to the academy, she underwent a rigorous evaluation process, which includes a physical component. That part was certainly aided by her time spent as a runner at Lyndhurst HS. Oh, and did we mention she also spent the last few years playing the Lyndhurst Golden Bear, the mascot that attends football and basketball games, in addition to numerous town-wide events like parades, concerts and the like?
Can you say well-rounded?
Still, this is a huge sacrifice for the soon-to-be LHS alum, who is, in essence, giving up the summer after her senior year of high school.
“I’ve always been one to want to try everything,” Cirne says.
And while it will be an adjustment, it won’t be the first time she’s been away from home.
Cirne and a group of peers traveled, without adults, to Thailand — so being far from Lyndhurst without her family isn’t quite foreign.
Bottom line, nonetheless, is that she’s realizing her dream and is going to make the best of it.
“My mom has been so supportive. As has my grandfather,” she says.
Speaking of grandpa, Lyndhurst’s Joseph Sferruzza, Cirne has the greatest cheerleader in him.
“We’re supposed to say if she graduates from the academy she’ll be the first from Lyndhurst,” Sferruzza says. “But I say when she graduates from the academy, because I know she can do this.”
And it all begins just five days after her high school graduation, the last week in June.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.