BARNEGAT, NJ – In a sense, it’s a dream realized for Barnegat High Senior Peter Toth. However, the young man’s acceptance by three military academies represents a great deal more than fantasies. The rare accomplishment came from solid planning, determination, and hard work. Next year, Toth school mascot changes from a Barnegat Bengal to a West Point Army Mule.
By the time he started high school, eighteen-year-old Toth knew he wanted to serve in the military. When it came time to apply for college, he didn’t want to limit his options. He, therefore, submitted applications to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and the United States Military Academy in West Point. And, was accepted to all three.
“I joined the Civil Air Patrol when I was in middle school,” shared Toth. “I was thirteen years old and learned about the program when my family stumbled across an air show.”
Toth’s father, whose name is also Peter Toth, remembers how it all started. He and his wife Kathleen have enthusiastically supported their son’s ambitions. In this case, it meant taxiing young Peter to McGuire Air Force Base on a regular basis.
“It was an hour each way,” the older Toth continued. “However, we watched Peter move up in ranks and actually contribute to the success of his squadron. It was well worth the long trips.”
The Navy ROTC program at Barnegat High School didn’t begin until Toth was in his sophomore year. Since his schedule conflicted, he was unable to join right away. Initially, Toth started as a squad leader and moved up to a platoon chief. He is currently the company commander/commanding officer. The program’s total complement consists of 86 cadets and a staff of 22.
“ROTC is about building citizenship and leadership,” explained Toth. “We work on self-confidence, respect, and what amounts to building a whole person concept.”
Toth appears to have taken stock in the importance of being a well-rounded individual. Scholastically, he’s earned status as a member of the National Honor Society. He was elected as a Boys State Delegate, and also nominated for the Boys State Gordon Vreeland Award.
As the high school’s golf team captain, Toth doesn’t just focus on the physical sport. He leads by example, stressing accountability, and works to keep morale high among team members. Toth is also a cross-country runner. Meanwhile, he manages to squeeze in volunteer hours at the township’s firehouse and works part-time at the East Bay Grill.
Applying to military academies differs from submitting regular college applications. It’s not just the essay requirements, the extensive questionnaires, or physical fitness tests that come into play. For one, candidates need to be nominated by an elected official from the federal government.
Toth went through the screening progress with Congressman Andy Kim’s representatives and ultimately received the nomination from him. However, it wasn’t until months later that the high school senior spoke with Kim firsthand.
“I was on a date in New York City and received a call from a number I didn’t recognize,” recalled Toth. “The voice on the other end identified himself as the congressman. He told me that I got into the Air Force Academy.”
While the teen’s first impression was that he was being pranked, Toth ultimately decided the call was real. He’s looking forward to meeting Congressman Kim at a special luncheon.
Contacted for comment, Kim said, “We need more people like Peter and our other nominees; people ready to step up and answer the call to service for our country and community. Peter follows in the footsteps of so many great veterans and service members throughout Ocean County. We know he’ll make New Jersey and our country proud in the years to come.”
Although Toth knew he wanted to go into the military, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He took a little time to consider his options and realized he was extremely interested in cyber-security. Toth has already attended cyber defense classes and participated in competitive teams dealing with cyber activities.
“I researched the opportunities for cyber-security jobs within each of the branches,” shared Toth. “I visited both West Point and Annapolis and decided that the Army was where I was best fit.”
At the most recent Board of Education meeting, the board acknowledged Toth’s accomplishments as far as acceptance into the three military academies. Board President Michael Hickey, an active duty service member and veteran has worked with Toth and shared his impressions.
“Cadet Peter Toth is an outstanding student leader who exudes the core values that all military members and community leaders should have,” Hickey said. “That includes Character, Integrity, Honor, Service, Sacrifice, and Dedication.
“There is zero doubt in my mind that Cadet Toth will excel at the US Military Academy and beyond,” continued Hickey. “I am excited for him and all the students at the Barnegat School District. Our students are continuing to take their education and experience to higher levels of achievement.”