Starting the New Year with Diligence

The best news: Twenty two new cadets checked in on Thursday to start school at Fork Union Military Academy. I met as many as time allowed, and addressed the cadets and their parents in Wicker Chapel. This brings our current cadet corps to 437, higher than this time last year or the year before. We are all working together on retention, education, development, and inspiration. Word is spreading that FUMA is the place to be to reach your full potential.

The Christmas and New Year break allowed the faculty and staff to reenergize while spending valuable time with family and friends. It was terrific to see everyone back, clearly ready for the “full court press” between now and graduation in May. I made use of the quiet time over the break to visit members of our Board of Trustees, thanking them for their leadership and service on the board; eating too much; running in my “Hokie orange blaze” to protect me from hunters; pulling my grandson around Careby Hall in his new wagon; taking long walks with my grand-dog exploring FUMA; and preparing for the next six months of new experiences.

I look forward to having a full year here, and leading the change taking place throughout the Academy. Our Technology Committee is completing its recommendations. We decided today to work toward requiring laptops for the 2013-2014 academic year. We will work with Dell to configure a computer that meets all our academic needs, yet is less expensive than the advertised “deals” on the market. This will give us time to integrate technology throughout our educational outcomes and give plenty of notice to prospective and current cadets.

I spent a couple days over the break writing notes and signing thank you letters for the generosity shown during our Annual Giving Campaign. We are still receiving last-minute donations, and the outpouring of support is encouraging…allowing us to remain strong and vibrant. One particular gift in memory of Major Craig Moon will allow us to provide scholarships to young men who might not otherwise be able to attend. This unique and compassionate gift honors a distinguished alumnus, and provides the opportunity for several cadets to have the benefit of a Fork Union experience when one might not otherwise exist. The entire academy community is excited at the possibilities this gift provides.

Some wonder how my blogs can be so positive when we still have work to do at FUMA. The answer is easy. We do have work to do…and none of us is perfect. We are a work in progress, but a work with unlimited potential and capability…and we realize a little bit more of that potential every day. We learn from our missteps, we improve, and more importantly we build on the good that surrounds us…and there is good in abundance. Today, CPT Sam Mavrick provided the Thursday Chapel service and asked the question “What is Diligence?” Of course I answered, it is a Coast Guard Cutter, along with Decisive, Valiant, Reliance, and Confidence…but the answer he was looking for defines this great school.

Diligence is being thorough, working hard, being persistent, and conscientious. Fork Union Military Academy is diligent, and this quality is embodied in the best of our faculty and staff. We will continue to build on the good things happening here, and sail forward with the wind just off our beam, and seas calming. Sorry, I do miss the water…

I look forward to building on this message, and Tuesday’s message of perseverance delivered by MAJ Carl Muench, when I address the entire Corp of Cadets on Sunday. My message will be one that speaks of the importance of what we do here…and how we can be more effective when the cadets understand our efforts to help them be their very best. I will also speak of my newest challenge which is to dispel the myths surrounding military high schools.

The success of our graduates proves the value we provide. This success is testimony to the strength of a holistic education stressing academic achievement, physical fitness, discipline, responsibility, and spiritual growth. Everyone could benefit from the experience we provide…and all our cadets are here of their own free will, and we are blessed by all the diversity and talent in the young men who make up our Corps of Cadets.

Go FUMA!

J. Scott Burhoe
President, Fork Union Military Academy
Rear Admiral, USCG, Retired