Peter Graham

The Man, The Myth, The Legend


Sonia Goujon, Demon Tattler Staffer

Teaching is biology, astronomy, and geology is just like a walk in the park, according to SFHS’s very own Mr. Peter Graham. Before transferring to the Science Department at Santa Fe High, Graham taught science at De Vargas Middle School, as well as coached their track team. Fresh into his teaching career, he remained at De Vargas for about three years and is now in his thirty-first year at SFHS. You could say that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as Mr. Graham is a very notable alumnus from SFHS, graduating in 1980. 


Peter Graham attended Santa Fe High, where he competed on both the cross country and track teams. When asked about how the dynamic of the school as a whole has changed since his own high school years, he had answered, “The physical layout is generally the same. It was funny because students at the time had to relearn their ABCs because all of the buildings were lettered. The plaza was filled with smaller buildings that had some classrooms inside. In terms of curriculum, there was no AP program. However, there were advanced and general classes. They were just not labeled as AP or non-AP.” 


Mr. Graham currently holds the Head Coach position for both the Cross Country and Track and Field teams. Before becoming the head coach at De Vargas, and then SFHS, Mr. Graham coached Babe Ruth baseball here in Santa Fe before his college years. After losing eligibility, Graham was assigned as an assistant coach for Adams State while still finishing his degree, which resulted in Graham being immediately hooked to coaching. Later, he started coaching track at De Vargas in 1987-88, where he then transitioned to coaching Boys Track at SFH in 1988. In the fall of ‘88, he was also an assistant coach for cross country, and following that, in the fall of ‘89, he was hired as head coach for both boys and girls cross country. In 1992, he took over both xc and track programs. Through all of his years of training as an athlete himself and learning how to coach underneath top role model coaches, to this day, he incorporates what he learned and underwent into one final philosophy that he uses with his own athletes. 


Fresh out of high school, Peter Graham attended Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado. There, he studied and earned a degree in natural science, which included a combination of biology and geology. Graham was mostly intrigued by Adams State’s nationwide known Cross Country and Track program, where he competed underneath Coach Joe Vigil, an extremely well-known coach nationwide who has sent many of his athletes to the Olympics. On the side of the impressive sports program, Graham was also lured to their science program. After growing up in a family of ten who were mostly science-oriented people, Graham had always liked science as a subject. 


 As many juniors or seniors in high school experience the feeling of the overwhelmingness of choosing what to major in college, Graham had been there and done that. His advice when it comes to overcoming this feeling of overwhelmingness is to not worry about it. “You’re going to find the thing that interests you, even if that means you have to explore,” said Mr. Graham. He also urges future college students not to commit to one particular field of work until they have explored and tried every other possibility there is. 


Graham found his calling for teaching when he had “conveniently” taken Structural Geology three times. Structural geology was a credit required for graduation, so failing was not an option. After taking it once with Adams State, Graham then took it with UNM, then once more with Adams State. In the meantime, instead of only having to take one class a semester, Graham decided to attend basic teaching classes on the side. He was accepted by a year-long UNM Internship, where he completed classwork during the summer, taught with a partner from fall to spring, then completed coursework the following summer. After being able to teach for about a year, Graham knew he had found his career. Lucky enough, De Vargas allowed Graham to complete his internship at the middle school, and by the time he completed all required coursework, he was hired as a full-time science teacher. In the same time frame as the internship, Graham was debating whether he wanted to professionally run on a national level, or be an educator. But, unfortunately, Graham had suffered from an injury, which was about the same time as the start of the internship, forcing his hand at the end to take teaching underneath his wing. Graham claims that this was a small taste of his fate. 


From his early days of running, coaching, and teaching, to now, Peter Graham still lives with the positive infection of energy he gets from his students, as well as athletes. He continues to follow his fate; coaching and teaching at SFHS. As a self-distraction from the overbearing chaos caused by covid, Graham likes to focus on drawing very delicate looking anatomical sketches of various spectrums of nature. On a side note, he also likes to fish whenever he can, as well as walk/hike with his two dogs to keep moving.