James Perilloux heading to West Point following Riverside graduation

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

RESERVE — When his cell phone started blowing up with texts and calls from his mom, James Perilloux knew something big had happened.

He just couldn’t answer because he was in class at Riverside Academy.

When he finally could read the text from his mother saying, “read your email,” Perilloux got the news he had been dreaming of since he was in sixth grade.

Perilloux has been selected for admittance into the United States Military Academy at West Point with orders to report July 3.

“I just kind of, like, dropped,” he said. “It was amazing. It feels wonderful. This is what I want. Going to West Point, it’s a lot more than just going to a regular college. There’s so much heritage there. So many great men and women have graduated from that. One of the mottos of the history department there is, “Much of the history we teach is made by the people we’ve taught.”

James Perilloux shows off his acceptance letter to West Point.

Perilloux has wanted to be one of those people as long as he can remember.

“I did a project on West Point when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “That’s kind of when it started.”

Since then Perilloux has been a model honor student, a member of the Beta Club and the local Young Marines. Of his many academic and leadership awards, he is most proud of winning the 2014 LaPlace Rotary Club’s Stephanie “Nikki” Wilking Memorial Leadership Award.

Perilloux also has volunteered for many years at the South Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve.

By the end of 2016 he had checked off everything on the list of requirements for his application except a Congressional nomination. He needed one, from either a Congressman or a Senator.

He got three, from Congressman Cedric Richmond, from Senator David Vitter and from Senator Bill Cassidy.

“That’s, like, unheard of,” he said.

A few weeks after receiving the email notifying him of the final item on his checklist, Perilloux received the actual letter in the mail.

Rather, his mom did.

“I was at work,” he said. “She called and said, ‘We’re going to wait for you to open it.’ Then a few minutes later she texted me asking, ‘can we please open it?’  I said, ‘No. Wait for me. Please wait for me.’”

That is when it became real.

“It hit me,” he said. “You see it on the Internet and it’s like, ‘Oh. I got it.’ Then you get that (certificate) and that’s what they’ve been mailing to people for hundreds of years. You get that and you’re in awe.”