Edward “Pete” Peterson, Peekskill High School
It’s not often that a sports legend comes by to give you a car and thank you for encouraging him to pursue his dreams.
But that’s what happened to Peekskill High School security aide Edward “Pete” Peterson, who received this show of gratitude several years ago from basketball star Elton Brand. An alumnus of Peekskill High who had known Peterson from the time he was a boy, Brand thanked Peterson on the NBA TV series Toyota’s Moving Forward Moments for driving him to basketball games and giving him encouragement.
A heartfelt show of appreciation to be sure, but Brand is only one of many students past and present who have benefited from Peterson’s attention and wisdom, according to Principal Cassandra Hyacinthe.
“Pete is very sincere and brings a lot of love to the job,” she says. “He gives the kids advice, talks to them about college scholarships and makes them see how much potential they have.”
Peterson’s official job title is security aide, and his official priority is keeping the building safe. One of seven safety officials in the 900-student school, he helps make sure students are where they’re supposed to be, steps in when they misbehave and provides access to the key-controlled elevator.
But above and beyond those official responsibilities, Peterson serves as cherished role model, friend, and engine of community pride and goodwill. “He has great relationships with the students and families,” Hyacinthe says.
A 1980 graduate of Peekskill High, Peterson often puts in 12-hour days in service to students. When regular school hours end, he goes on to the Elton Brand Academy, an after-school program where he distributes snacks and supports activities. He often ends his day at a school sports game, serving as DJ and announcer.
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Peterson speaks affectionately about his alma mater, where he has worked for 24 years. “I give credit to the kids,” he says. “We’ve had amputees in the school, we’ve had homeless kids, we’ve had kids who have had to overcome big challenges. But we all reach out to make their lives better. It’s a great school with great people. It’s one big family.”