Discipline Balanced by Enthusiasm

On Monday morning two cadets greeted me with a very large trophy from Saturday’s Fred Hardy, Jr. Invitational Track Meet. It was an impressive event, not just because we won so decisively, but because it showcased our indoor track facility which is the best in Fluvanna County, and highlighted the commitment of our cadets and our coaches. I arranged with Winston Brown, our track coach, to present the trophy back to the team at track practice. The picture [magically] appeared on the front page of our website.

At the Coast Guard Academy I used an expression borrowed from a movie clip I saw during my New Presidents Course at Harvard University. The expression was “Don’t let discipline be the enemy of enthusiasm.” I’m proud to say that we are bringing that same attitude to life here at Fork Union Military Academy. The track team showed an enthusiasm and energy that was contagious…but admittedly when the camera came out many cadets put on their “game faces…” perhaps because they didn’t want their friends at home to see how much fun they were having at Fork Union.

We welcomed twelve new Middle School cadets: a very diverse collection of young men from around the country. With retention increasing, and more families learning that Fork Union Military Academy is the best place for their sons to be educated, developed, and inspired, we are already getting excited about next year, as we anticipate starting at our highest level in a few years. It has also been encouraging to have so many talented teachers and coaches show interest in working at FUMA…and we are just beginning the process to ensure we have the best teachers and leaders in place.

Next Tuesday marks the mid-point of this school year, and today we started the process of developing a long-range plan that articulates our vision. We will call it Fork Union 2020. More information on this inclusive process will follow. All our planning will be grounded in our values as a Christian, residential, college-preparatory, military school, blending the best of today to prepare young people for the future.

This week we also honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the opening prayer of our Chapel Service. I can still remember seeing the “I Have a Dream” speech, and was shaped by Dr. King’s vision. One of my favorite quotes from a small book in my library is: “Tough-mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and detached, leaving one’s life in a perpetual winter devoid of the warmth of spring and the gentle heat of summer.”

This quote also helps me recognize that spring is right around the corner, and as I can tell from the faces of all our seniors, so is college. Our guidance office is working closely with the entire class finishing applications and gathering acceptances. All indications are that this will be another successful year.

Another notable event this week was a “Code Blue” drill we conducted. While we pray that no unplanned emergencies and tragedies will befall our school, as we are praying we are planning for a variety of contingencies. We “sounded the alarm” just before the end of classes, then sat down for a “hot wash” to incorporate lessons-learned from the drill. The cadets and faculty/staff responded well, and we are planning the next drill (unannounced next time). My thanks to all those who took this so seriously. There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our students.

This blog doesn’t begin to describe the conversations, events, planning, and excitement we had this week…but for those alumni, family, and friends who haven’t visited for a while, all you need to do is stop by to see that we are “on the move.”

Jacobson Hall remains on-time and on-budget, and we just ordered a 4’ by 8’ billboard [portraying Jacobson Hall] to place in front of Snead Hall so that everyone traveling around Fraley Circle can get a sense of the “sea change” this new building will bring to our campus. This new dormitory symbolizes our future, and reflects just how much we care about every young man who enters our gates. This building, while the culmination of years of hard work and generosity, is only the beginning as we enter this new day.

Go FUMA!

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