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Memories of a voyage inspire strength in runner

A family's olden-day ship cruise stays with East High student

James Stack, a senior, is East High's film and video chairman.
James Stack, a senior, is East High's film and video chairman.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

Third-place winner James Stack's treasured memory is one that gets him through tough times, especially in his cross country races.

Nearly four years ago Stack and his family went on a five-week vacation that took him to France, Germany, Denmark, and the open sea.

It was there in icy northern waters where he found himself 100 feet above the deck, swaying with the waves and taking in an eagle's-eye-view of the sea.

"When I am running, at the end of a race and in a lot of pain I think back to that and remember how peaceful and awesome it was," Stack said.

Since then Stack has been back to Germany, New York and on other vacations, but what makes that first trip so memorable was the one-week voyage that emulated olden days.

It was no leisure cruise.

Aside from making fire checks and being on ship watch on the 19th century-style ship, Stack said he was required to help out in the kitchen and make meals for the whole ship. He even got to steer the ship for a while.

He said some passengers even went so far as to wear era-appropriate clothing to make the journey even more like that of the early immigrants.

Stack admits that climbing up to the crow's nest was a little scary — though he thinks he may have had the help of a safety rope in the climb. Even so, he stayed up there for about 20 minutes — peering down at his family, thinking about his sister and feeling free.

"It was just one of those peaceful moments where I was just thinking 'Oh, this is so cool, I can't believe I am here,' " Stack said.

A senior at East High School, Stack is involved in cross country and is the film and video chairman at the school. He makes videos for assemblies as well as producing for East TV, a news program at the school.

Though film is one of his top loves he also enjoys writing and math. But he hasn't decided which field he wants to go into after he graduates.

Stack has been writing since he was younger — crafting short stories or just putting his thoughts down on paper. He said his English teachers in high school have played a big part in improving his work and encouraging him to write.

He said he will probably save some of the $250 award for college — he wants to go to a school somewhere on the East Coast.

But he might invest the rest in karate lessons.

"I've always wanted to do that," Stack said.