Naval Academy awaits St. Luke's classmates

February 10, 2009


Kevin Williams and Robert Barnhisel share some things in common.

They were classmates at St. Luke's parochial school in River Forest. Come June they'll be fourth classmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

And neither can pass up a challenge.

Barnhisel, a wrestler who will graduate from Fenwick High School in the spring, hopes to eventually become a Navy Seal, or go into the Marines. Williams is also undecided between the Seals or intelligence work, "maybe with the CIA."

Asked if he had apprehensions about the academy's high washout rate, Williams said, "Not at all."

"We had the same thing at St. Ignatius. If I can survive the Jesuits there, I should be able to survive anything," Williams said after U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-7th, announced the academy appointments.

Davis said most of the 15-or-so students he nominates to the service academies every year are accepted thanks to a rigorous application process that can take several months and weeds out all but the best.

"And most of those who get in stay in" to graduate, Davis said.

The accompanying four-year scholarship is worth "well over $300,000," said Davis, who grew up in rural Arkansas and thought of joining the Air Force himself after graduating from high school, but was too young to enlist without parental consent. "And my mother wasn't about to sign," he said.

For more information about applying to any of the service academies, call (708) 345-6857 or (773) 533-7520.