LAWRENCE — Adam Morris aims high in life – literally.
The Central Catholic High School senior is determined to become a rocket scientist and he has been accepted by the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Like all men and women headed for one of the service academies, his summer vacation will be cut short because he must report for duty in Colorado Springs on June 29.
Morris, the son of John and Donna Morris, of Salem, New Hampshire, does not regret the abbreviated free time in the least.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Morris aspires to be an astronautical or aerospace engineer, designing and building aircraft and spaceships. Outer space has fascinated him "since I was a kid watching 'Star Wars,'" he said.
This future rocket scientist loves mathematics and physics, subjects an aerospace engineer must master. He is blessed with the requisite aptitude, having taken two Advanced Placement classes in physics and one in calculus.
He has also taken AP classes in U.S. history and U.S. government, as well as many honors classes. And he enrolled in a virtual astronomy course.
"I like to challenge myself academically," he said.
Somehow, that seems like an understatement.
Most, if not all, people accepted by the service academies are athletes besides being excellent students. Morris is not an exception.
He played varsity soccer at Central all four years and varsity volleyball for three. He also plays for club teams in those sports. His club soccer team, Queen City Empire, based in Manchester, New Hampshire, won the state championship last summer.
At Central Catholic, Morris is a member of the National Honor Society and serves as a student ambassador. In that role, he orients new students to the school.
Morris has tutored students at Lawrence Catholic Academy and coached soccer players with special needs.
During April vacation, he will join other Central students as well as teachers in Project Rebuild. The group will travel to Newburgh, New York, where they will help build houses under he guidance of Habitat for Humanity.
So why did Morris apply to the Air Force Academy? Besides the reduced summer break, he will be required to spend at least five years on active duty as an Air Force officer.
Not a problem, he said.
"I am very patriotic and I want to serve my country," he said. "The American ideals of freedom are worth fighting for."
Morris, who was nominated for the academy by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., will not be the first member of his family to serve in the Air Force. His maternal grandfather, William Hammett, was an air traffic controller in the Air Force and continued in that profession in civilian life.
His paternal grandfather, the late George Morris, was also an Air Force veteran.
Morris hopes to work for NASA someday.
"I think it's going to happen in the next 50 years," he said when asked about the possibility of sending astronauts to Mars. He noted NASA is working on developing the Orion spacecraft that is expected to fly astronauts outside the Earth's orbit around the sun.
Morris' discipline and ability to focus on the task at hand would be admirable if they were possessed by a much older person.
"I'm pretty good at keeping things in perspective," he said.
Again, it sounds like an understatement.
Asked who his heroes are, he said, "I would definitely say my parents."
He is grateful to them for giving him the opportunity to attend Central Catholic and receive an excellent education, he said.
He said he admires New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, calling him a man "of great character and leadership" who has the "ability to overcome obstacles."
Another role model, he said, is Buzz Aldrin – the second astronaut to step on the moon July 20, 1969. Aldrin, a West Point graduate who flew combat missions in the Korean War, was initially rejected in his bid to become an astronaut, Morris noted.
So he qualified as a test pilot and earned a place in the program, he said. At the age of 87, Aldrin "still advocates for space exploration," Morris said.
Yet another hero, he said, is a fictitious character: Captain America. He admires Captain America's patriotism, leadership and "great sense of morals," he said.
As for the school he has attended for the last four years, Morris said, "I definitely like the Marist values of serving others." Central Catholic was founded and is still run by the Marist Brothers, a Catholic order of teachers.
Morris' brother Benjamin also attends Central Catholic. He is a sophomore.