Julia Kalshoven and Ramar Williams
Julia Kalshoven and Ramar Williams CS PHOTOS BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN
Ramar Williams and Julia Kalshoven – two members of the graduating Class of 2016 at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville – will be continuing as classmates next year as both have been accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Out of the nearly 19,200 applications it receives, the Naval Academy will only enroll about 1,200 plebes. Because of the extremely selectivity of the Academy – only about 7 percent of applicants are accepted – it is rather rare that two students from the same school will qualify.

“The selectivity (of the Naval Academy) is equal to Georgetown or Duke,” said Robert Van der Waag, school principal of the coeducation high school sponsored by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. “We have had students in years past attend, but to have two is something unique.”

The principal added, “it is a testament” to Williams and Kalshoven that “they want to give something back to this country. We are all proud of the choices they made.”

Williams said he chose to attend the Naval Academy “because I love the school and its rich tradition.”

“It is very organized and structured, and those are important to me being successful in my life,” he added.

Williams is the son of Robin and Sharon Williams of Bowie. Both of his parents are retired from the U.S. Army. Williams said that he chose the Naval Academy because “the military aspect is there,” but “I wanted to do something different” from his Army parents.

“My parents are very proud of me. They know this is a big decision and a big step,” he said.

Kalshoven, the daughter of James and Laura Kalshoven of Laham, said she sought an appointment to the Naval Academy after attending a summer seminar there.

“I don’t have a military family, and I really wasn’t looking at a military school for college,” she said. But after attending a summer program at the Annapolis school, Kalshoven found “I really liked the academic and physical challenge. This is not just a college. It challenges you in all aspects – academically, physically and morally.”

Kalshoven added that she was also drawn to the cohesiveness stressed at the Naval Academy.

“I like the idea of camaraderie and that everyone has each other’s back,” she said. “l love the idea of being accountable not just for yourself but other people.”

Both students have been active during their time at McNamara.

Williams was one of the first males to take dance classes there for all four of his high school years, and he was a star for the Mustangs’ football team. He ended his high school football career as the second all-time high school passer in Maryland history.

“Once I decided that (the Naval Academny) is the place I want to be, I am just thankful that McNamara is a great college prep school with great teachers and great administrators,” Williams said. “I built a foundation here that I could not find anywhere else. The Naval Academy won’t be easy, but I will be prepared.”

Kalshoven, the valedictorian of McNamara’s Class of 2016, was active in theater, band, dance and various other clubs and was also a peer minister. She also called her appointment to the academy “a testament” to the education she received at McNamara.

Williams is attending the academy with an interest in becoming an intelligence officer, while Kalshoven has an interest in diplomacy and engineering.

Marco Clark, the president and CEO of Bishop Mcnamara, noted that “the United States Naval Academy and our country are getting two extraordinary leaders” in Williams and Kalshoven.

“Two things come to mind when I think of the decisions that Julia and Ramar have made,” Clark said. “They not only are receiving a world class education for the next four years, but they've made a decision that will positively impact the next 40 years; and their focus is not so much on what they can get out of their Naval Academy education, as to what they can give back to the world.”

“With leaders like Julia and Ramar, they give us great hope for the future,” he said.