An anxious audience of family and friends flocked to the U.S. Naval Academy on Friday waiting to see the Class of 2016 formally mark the end of Plebe Summer.
The audience erupted in cheers when the gate went up around 12:15 p.m., and the first company of plebes marched in for its noon meal formation. After dismissal, a sea of white shirts snaked its way up the arena steps to find their families.
Catherine Gonzales wrapped her son up in a long hug as soon as he reached the top step.
"I'm good; I made it," Connor Gonzales said.
"I didn't make it," Catherine Gonzales replied.
Of the 1,210 plebes that started at the Naval Academy on Induction Day this June, only 19 dropped out during the rigorous six-week summer program.
Plebe summer rules prohibit new recruits from using cellphones, watching television and surfing the Internet. Plebes cannot leave campus, and their 16-hour days, which often started at 5:30 a.m., included very little personal time.
Sedarria Crawford said the thing she looked forward to the most was steak. The academy does offer steak on its menu, but Crawford said it's just not the same.
An uncertain forecast moved noon meal formation indoors, and it created some confusion as parents were told to gather to receive their kids by company rather than by last name.
Hal Olson held a sign with his plebe's last name on it high above his head. He is the host parent for Jessica Carrillo, of Sacramento, who found him and his sign before she found her parents.
Susan Carrillo said, "She started out in regular boot camp, so we knew what to expect. This isn't our first rodeo."