Levi Streeter decided during his freshman year at Skyview High School that he wanted to go to one of the U.S. service academies — Air Force preferably, but the Navy, too.
And then he got to work.
For the most part, it has paid off. He graduates this Sunday near the top of his class, but he'll be going to Bozeman instead of Annapolis or Colorado Springs.
"They sent me rejection letters," he said with a smile.
Sure, it was discouraging. But he had worked hard in high school — in the classroom, on the tennis court and with his youth group at Harvest Church. It was going to take more than rejection letters to get him down.
"So I hung 'em up on my wall," he said.
He sees them every day and they inspire him to work that much harder. When he begins classes this fall at Montana State University, he'll be enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program there.
He plans to distinguish himself and apply to the Air Force Academy again at the end of the year.
"That's my dream," he said. "I'm not gonna let them tell me no."
Scott Lynch, an assistant principal at the school, wishes more of Skyview's students were a little more like Streeter. He admires Streeter's work ethic and dedication.
More than that, he admires his kindness.
During lunch hour, Streeter and his big group of friends — rather than leave campus to eat — pull tables together and eat in the lunchroom.
"They see people alone, they invite them over," Lynch said. "That's what you want all your kids to be like."
Streeter smiles when he talks about his high school experience. It's been an enjoyable time and he's going to miss it. But he also feels ready for what comes next.
"I've always been surrounded by great people," he said. "I feel prepared."
He credits his parents with raising him right — his father was a naval aviator and someone who had a lot of influence on his life — and he credits God with giving him the potential to succeed.
"It's his glory," Streeter said.
The goal now is to make it to graduation.
"What I'm trying to do is finish strong," he said. "I'm trying to finish with all As."