PLEASANTVILLE — Over the summer, Akeem Walker and his friends spotted a preschool-age boy walking alone in the middle of the night. They called 911 and stayed with the young boy until police arrived, helping the officers locate the boy’s mom.
Akeem and the three other young men received recognition from the police for their heroism.
“That’s just one example of what Akeem does and the type of person Akeem is,” said his football coach and guidance counselor at Pleasantville High School, Chris Sacco.
Standing just over 6-feet-tall, 17-year-old Akeem speaks quietly and has a broad, toothy smile. He wears his hair in short twists that cover his forehead, and sports two sparkling earrings. Akeem is positive and said he likes to be happy and have fun.
Last month, just a few days before the Greyhounds’ final game of the season, Akeem was excited. The Thanksgiving Day football game — which they won against rival Ocean City — followed a disappointing loss to Haddonfield during the South Jersey Group II semi-final game earlier that month.
“It didn’t go as expected, but we made a huge step from last year so that’s good,” Akeem said. “A couple of mistakes, little mistakes caused us to not be champions. But hopefully the upcoming class can fix those mistakes for next year.”
Akeem began playing football in 2016 as a sophomore, a year after the team’s winless season. As a wide receiver, Akeem has been a big contributor to the team, Sacco said. He stays active all year, running track in the winter and spring.
“I’m an athlete, all around,” the senior said.
Off the field, Akeem works just as hard, earning a 4.1 GPA, scoring over 1200 on his SAT, and ranking 12th in his class. But he is also very modest, not once bragging about his academic or athletic skills — they were recounted by his coach — or even mentioning the event over the summer, which appeared in the news.
Outside of sports, Akeem said he doesn’t have much time for anything else — he said he even celebrated his 17th birthday at a football game.
“I have too much sports going on, so I don’t have too much time,” he said.
Akeem is looking forward to college and to continuing to play football, which he said is his passion.
“It’s team-oriented, and I get to play with my friends,” he said, describing why he likes the game.
He said he has been looking at colleges, but hasn’t made a choice yet. Earlier this year, Akeem said he wanted to major in business and also had aspirations of becoming a real estate broker. He doesn’t care how far away he goes to college, because eventually he wants to travel the world, he said.
As of November, he had been accepted to four colleges.
“It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders knowing I have options now,” Akeem said, noting that scholarship money helps his parents out.
One of four children, Akeem was born in Jamaica and moved with his parents and siblings to Atlantic City as a baby. When he was 5, they moved to Pleasantville, where he has been since. Akeem said he has no complaints and was pretty happy about how the school year was going so far. He said there was a “a different vibe” in the hallways this year.
“I don’t know if I’m the only one that’s noticing this, but it feels more active,” he said, describing a community project his senior class did sending cards to soldiers overseas for Thanksgiving.
Akeem couldn’t attribute it to any one person in the district.
“I think we’re the best class, I think that’s why,” he said, grinning.