Valley Stream North High School student Peter J. Mura will be taking his strengths and commitment to community service further afield to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the fall. Peter graduated from Valley Stream North this past Friday and will be one of the 1,226 cadets in the West Point class of 2025. He began his Cadet Basic Training, the first required training session for new cadets, on June 27 but Peter’s initial draw to West Point was sparked many years ago with trips to the scenic Hudson River campus.
Competing in track, football and wrestling, Peter was a well-rounded athlete at Valley Stream North and he recalled the 2019 West Point summer army wrestling camp as a turning point for his ambition to attend the prestigious military academy.
“The people I met there were so amazing. I knew after that week that I would form bonds and relationships with people that I could connect with and those would last a long time,” said Peter about his interactions with the cadets and officers at West Point. “It sounds a little cliché but listening to what motivates them and hearing about their love for their country and reasons for going to the academy was very inspiring for me.”
His teacher at Valley Stream North, John Novello, described Peter as a “dynamic, dedicated and diverse” student and a member of multiple honors societies during his high school career. While Peter is entering the military academy as an undecided major, he is considering pursuing a major in cyberscience given his accomplishments in math and science.
“I have always been a big computers guy, I built my own computer with my dad two or three years ago - it has always been an interest of mine as cyberscience is a growing field in international conflicts,” remarked Peter.
From obtaining a congressional nomination to passing a series of physical and medical examinations alongside expected academic forms and supplements, applying to West Point is a unique experience for prospective cadets. However, the coronavirus pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for Peter at the end of a roughly two-year-long application process to West Point. According to Peter and Theresa Mura, Peter’s parents, Valley Stream North High School had been particularly helpful in overcoming several logistical challenges that arose throughout the year.
“As you can imagine there is a lot of admin paperwork, things get lost in the mail - even electronically - and things had to be resubmitted so teachers were very patient,” Mura said. “The school also helped put us in touch with the Malvern American Legion - Post 44 and they sponsored Peter for Boys State 2020 which is also a very fine organization and they helped his application as well.”
Peter’s accomplishment of his admission to West Point has been widely recognized by the community in Valley Stream, particularly among his teachers at Valley Stream North and members of the American Legion.
“Peter has always been a special young man. I met him when he first entered North as a seventh grader and he signed up to play football. I saw his leadership qualities back then, never mind how athletic he was. Quickly he became our go-to man as he played tight end,” commented Fabian Jara, dean of students at Valley Stream North. “I watched Peter develop into the outstanding young man that is headed to West Point. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.”
Even during unprecedented times that have defined the past year, leadership has been central to Peter’s presence in the Valley Stream community. As soon as Peter heard that the Boys State 2020 session would be cancelled due to the pandemic, he redirected his efforts closer to home by organizing a food donation program for U.S. military first responders at the nearby Javits Center in July 2020.
Dawn Samuel, president of the American Legion Auxiliary of Nassau County, commented how the legion riders contributed to Peter’s efforts at the Javits Center last year. They were thrilled to hear of his acceptance to West Point this spring and consequently, Samuel and the legion riders organized a ‘send-off’ parade for Peter on June 19.
“He was going to go to Boys State but that was cancelled but we thought he’s one of us, we should send him off to West Point,” said Samuel. “We invited the New York naval cadets and their school age children and we thought it was a great idea to help them participate in the send off so you know this is something they could achieve, it’s not just for a certain few, it’s for everyone.”
When asked what he was most excited about starting as a cadet next year, Peter commented that he “can’t wait to meet my new fellow cadets, be a part of their lives and go on this journey together.”