Pocantico Student Experiences Life at the Naval Academy 

Clover Graves on the Naval Academy campus in front of a statue of the academy mascot. Photo supplied

Clover Graves made the trip from Westchester to Annapolis, Maryland, along with her father in early June. The trip takes about three to four hours, but the Pocantico Hills Central School District student said it wasn’t too bad, especially considering how far her roommates had come. 

“It was interesting to see how many people traveled for this camp,” Graves said. “I’m so used to a small community camp that it was so interesting to see how international the whole camp was.” 

Joined by students from across the world — including her roommates’ homes ranging from California to a U.S. Naval base in Japan — Graves attended the U.S. Naval Academy Summer STEM program right before graduating from Pocantico Hills.  She said the experience was eye-opening for her future aspirations. 

The program is designed for rising ninth- through 11th graders who demonstrate high academic performance, strong extracurriculars and an interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Students attending get to learn about the Naval Academy while also learning from the academy’s faculty, according to the program’s website. U.S. News and World Report ranked the academy as the sixth best liberal arts college in the nation. 

Graves spent her week in Annapolis completing modules, or mini courses, created by professors on campus. She soldered, created a circuit board, made a glider and shot rockets made of straw into the air aiming for targets. 

Her father, Scott Graves, said she’s always liked math and science and has wanted to be a doctor for as long as he can remember. 

“It’s not every day you get recognized by a school of this caliber, especially to be involved at a STEM program at that school,” he said. “She’s a go-getter kid.” 

Clover Graves graduated in June from Pocantico Middle School and will be attending The Masters School in the fall. Photo supplied

Dropping her off, Scott Graves said he was blown away by the campus, and was filled with excitement and pride mixed with sadness knowing he wouldn’t see her for a week. The whole experience was an exercise in independence. 

“You go to this beautiful building, and you go up these stairs and that’s it, that’s all a parent can do,” he said. “(I asked) ‘Can I come help make her bed? Can I do this?’ and they’re like ‘No sir, this is as far as you can go.’” 

While it was a week full of learning and the beginnings of a regimented military lifestyle, Clover Graves said her favorite moment was a barbecue dinner the camp held toward the end of the week. 

“It was nice to have a second to relax and have fun,” she said. “It was nice to not worry about anything for a second.” 

After this summer, Clover Graves will take on her next challenge: high school 

Graves said she doesn’t need to decide where she wants to go to college instantly but believes it’s smart to start thinking about what direction she wants to go. For now, she’s eyeing potentially studying to be a doctor at the Naval Academy. 

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About the Author: Kyle Chouinard