Merrimack High senior receives appointment to Naval Academy

The Independent Karate School announced that one of its students, Pheonyx Stopyra, 18, of Merrimack, was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Stopyra’s acceptance was made after numerous interviews, physical fitness tests and letters of appointment from Congressman Frank Guinta, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The Merrimack High School senior is the secretary of the National Honor Society, and a dual-sport athlete in football and wrestling. He was named captain of the wrestling team this year.

Since 2005, Stopyra has been involved with the Independent Karate School as a student and black belt instructor.

In February, the IKS celebrates the character traits of trust and friendship, and through his example, Stopyra exemplifies these traits for all those he comes in contact with.

Stopyra credits the IKS for many facets of his character.

The IKS "is a stellar environment for learning the martial arts," he said. "It’s more than just a school; it’s a family and a lifestyle."

Stopyra said he values characteristics such as integrity, humility and leadership.

"These are things I would not have if it wasn’t for the people I have met and the things I have learned at the IKS," he said.

The IKS also stresses scholarship and service to others. With a GPA in the top 3 percent of his class and more than 700 volunteer hours to his credit at events sponsored by and independent of the IKS, Stopyra proves himself the embodiment of a true IKS student and martial artist.

Stopyra’s path to Annapolis will see him follow the footsteps of another IKS black belt: Dr. Matthew Moore, USNA Class of 2002, currently a naval hospital pediatrician in Bethesda, Md.

Stopyra is the son of Natalie and Peter Stopyra.

For more information about the IKS, visit