116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Being a pilot has always been Hunter Shook’s dream.
Shook said his father, who is a pilot, has been a big inspiration. For a long time, the route Shook saw himself taking was to become a commercial pilot.
That changed when he learned about the U.S. Naval Academy. It just clicked, he said.
“I was honestly just on my phone watching plane videos when I saw these fighter pilots doing these extremely impressive maneuvers in their aircraft, and it just wowed me,” said Shook, 18.
Shook is one of 360 students graduating Sunday from West High School at the Xtream Arena.
Shook, who has lived in Iowa City his whole life, was drawn to the different atmosphere and challenging environment. What set the Naval Academy apart most to him was that “your responsibilities don’t stop when you’re on the ground” and not only when flying.
“And that’s just a huge sense of responsibility and honor,” he said.
“I want to make the most of it, especially if it can impact far more than just myself: teaching others, watching over others, testing myself in extreme environments,” Shook said.
English teacher Darci Witthoft said Shook goes out of his way to make others feel seen, heard and appreciated.
“In Hunter’s case, the expression ‘the sky’s the limit’ is quite fitting,” Witthoft said. “I know Hunter aspires to become a pilot one day, and I do not doubt that he will achieve this dream and so much more.”
Shook will leave in June for summer training, which will continue throughout the full four years in addition to pursuing his degree. Shook said he plans to study engineering and feels West High has done a great job at preparing him for the next step in his education.
He is looking forward to the many opportunities of meeting new people, military leaders and learning new skills.
During his time at West High, Shook has been involved in show choir, band and a school musical. He hopes to continue choir at the Naval Academy.
Social studies teacher Stacey Noble said Shook’s enthusiasm about learning and considering multiple angles to topics is “certainly the hallmark of a great leader,” something that will benefit his future with the Navy.
“He has a way of interacting with people so that they cannot help but smile, whether it is after a conversation about a classroom topic or a simple greeting in the hallway,” Noble said.
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