Originally compiled by Neal Pizzano, Class of 1976
Name: “Robert E. Peary,” selected by sixth graders at Aspen Hill Elementary School in 1960, because the high school was located on Arctic Avenue. The sixth graders researched the arctic area for prominent persons and themes associated with it. They made their choice and received permission from the Peary family to name the school after the famous arctic explorer. Those same students, who entered the seventh grade at Peary in September of 1960, were the first graduates of the school they had named who attended all of the opening years (the actual first graduating class was the Class of ’63, who entered Peary its opening year as sophomores).
The “North Pole” Flag: Located in the display case, it was flown from the mizzen gaff of the Roosevelt when Commander Peary sailed into Sydney, Nova Scotia, on September 21, 1909. Matthew Henson sewed NORTH POLE on a white diagonal strip on both sides of the Stars and Stripes. The flag was given to the students and staff of Robert E. Peary High School by the son and daughter of the explorer.
The Sled: Known as a sledge, located in the display case of the main hall, was one of five from the Roosevelt (the ship that took Peary to the North Pole). The sledge was originally placed on Eagle Island in Casco Bay, Maine, the home of Admiral Peary. It was presented to the students and faculty of Robert E. Peary High School on November 23, 1964 by Mrs. Marie Peary Stafford and Robert E. Peary, Jr., the daughter and son of the famous explorer. The other four sledges were named by Peary in honor of some of his staunchest associates; this sledge received no name, but the donors believe that, had it been named, it would have been called the Josephine Diebitsch Peary sledge in honor of the admiral’s wife, his most devoted, loyal, and inspiring supporter. Also see a 1964 Alumna’s visit to Eagle Island.
Photos from the Flag and Sledge Ceremony
Mascot: A Siberian Husky named Nalegaksoah, “King of the Team” was our “King II.” King II’s ashes lie in an urn that was placed into the Bell Tower when it was built. King III, who died in 1975, is buried in the Senior Court. The husky on the wall of the gymnasium (left) was painted by Paul Hapeman, Class of 1971. Taking care of “King” are Christine Gilbertson (above left) and Linda Bradley (above right), both Class of 1967.
Bell Tower: Housed the Bell from the U.S.S. Robert E. Peary 132. The triangular tower points north and is modeled after the original sixty-foot monument in Cape York, Greenland. “May the memorial bell tower ring out the joys and the sorrows, remind us of those, whose memories touch our lives, be an enduring monument to those ‘Who link us with the past and the future.” The memorial plates which are affixed to the sides of the tower serve as a timeless reminder to those who are alive of the former Peary students and staff members who have died in the service of their fellow man.
School Seal: A globe topped by POLARIS, the North Star; under it, Commander Peary driving a team of huskies transverses the globe. Under the globe, two dates: 1909, recalls the discovery of the North Pole; 1960, the first year Peary High School became a place for students to learn.
School Anchors: Dedicated on April 6, 1963 by the Senior Class of 1963. They symbolize the admiral’s iron will and determination to proceed until his goal was reached. Two anchors were presented to the school. One is in the Senior Courtyard; this larger one is in front of the school and is identified as follows: “In honor of Robert Edwin Peary, Rear Admiral, Civil Engineer corps, U.S.N.; Explorer, Scientist, Discoverer of the North Pole, April 6, 1909, erected by the first graduating class in cooperation with the Bureau of Yards and Docks, U.S.N., April 6, 1963.” Pictured: Most School Spirit – Marcy Priday and Steve Shaw, 1966
The Mast: Recovered from the U.S.S. Robert E. Peary 132, along with the bell in the Bell Tower, and became the flag pole. When it was in full show, it displayed the American, State of Maryland, and school flags. More information about the U.S.S. Peary ship(s) can be found at www.ussrobertepeary.net
Marching Band Uniforms: Navy Blue. Similar to midshipmen uniforms at the U.S. Naval Academy, except the number of buttons represent the number of Peary’s expeditions, and his rank of Rear Admiral was displayed by the stripes on the sleeves and the stars on the collar. Pictured, Wayne Wiley, Class of 1975.
Pipe Band: To honor Rear Admiral Donald Baxter MacMillan, Peary’s assistant on his North Pole expedition. Special permission to wear the plaid cloth of the tartans was secured from the MacMillan Clan of Scotland and from Donald Baxter MacMillan.
Alma Mater: The lyrics were written by Sari Hines from the Class of 1963. She incorporated the school motto: I Will Find A Way Or Make One, within the lyrics. The score was composed by the 7th Grade Music Class (Class of 1968).
Click here to listen to the song. Go to the Lyrics, Score, and Sound Files
School Flag: A replica of Admiral Peary’s personal flag. A rectangular flag divided into two triangles. One navy blue with a white star, the other, arctic white with a navy blue “P.” The flag was presented to the school on March 30, 1962 by the Student Government Association.