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Hart High grad looks forward to U.S. Naval Academy

Posted: June 1, 2012 2:19 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2012 2:19 a.m.


The name Samuel Wesley Peckham just sounds like it should follow some sort of rank.

And, someone pivotal in Sam’s life thought so, as well.

Peckham, a Hart HighSchool grad, has been selected to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in the fall.

Even though the 18-year-old has never been on a ship, a high school coach moved by the young man’s passion for challenge, his feats of endurance, his leadership and his initiative recommended that he apply to the academy.

“I’m so excited about this,” Peckham told The Signal.

Although no one in Peckham’s immediate family is in the military, a “very proud” uncle of his, who served in Vietnam and now lives on the East Coast, is suiting up to meet the young recruit when he arrives in Annapolis.

“There’s a private swearing in ceremony, and my uncle is going to come out for that,” Peckham said. “I haven’t seen him since I was a kid.”

Peckham’s uncle, Col. Gordon Ray Roberts, a Medal of Honor recipient, entered the military under starkly different circumstances a half-century ago, when he was drafted.

So what is it about Peckham that convinced a teacher at Hart to recommend him for the military?

Peckham likes to run cross country.

So much so, that when he started school at Hart, he acted on a vision he had of building a cross country team of like-minded individuals for the school.

Year after year, training harder and more diligently, the Hart High cross country team, under his leadership, became more and more successful with each competition.

“It’s hot, and it can be brutal with hills and stuff,” he said about cross country.

If a loose pack of young men was ever spotted running through the trees around Central Park any time over the last four years, there’s a good chance it was Peckham and his team training for their next event.

Since he’s been at Hart, both the school’s boys and girls cross-country teams has grown — 60 guys and 40 girls, with seven competing varsity boys and seven competing varsity girls.

“I came in as a freshman with one particular friend, and we wanted to build a team, and I think that’s what we did,” he said. “The team was good, but not really great.

“But then, in four years, we advanced to the state meet, placing seventh place, and that was big for us.”

“We’ve got an attitude with the team that is so much better than what it was,” he said.

It was these leadership qualities that convinced a Hart coach to recommend Peckham for the military.



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