Educating for Service

This evening we held our annual Thanksgiving dinner for cadets, faculty, and staff.  What a wonderful traditional cornucopia of freshly baked turkey, ham, breads, pies, cookies along with fresh vegetables and apple cider.  There is excitement in the air about the holidays, mixed of course with a boarding school filled with students looking forward to ten full days at home.

Last week ended with our Veterans Day ceremony; one of the best ever.  LTC Don Moore, our Executive Director of Development, gave an inspirational speech, which is now published on our website.  The invocation and benediction were delivered by Cadet Captain Shaffer, who told me this afternoon that he earned his Congressman's nomination to the Air Force Academy.

Our Prep (high school) Football Team earned a berth in the state championship game by beating Benedictine...which will be played Friday evening at Liberty University against Liberty Christian Academy.  It should be an exciting night.

I was "on the road" for three days this week, Monday at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, and Tuesday and Wednesday at the Baptist General Association of Virginia Annual Conference.  Members of our Board attended the VAIS Conference, setting a very positive example to our accreditation body, and learning more about current trends in education.

After attending sessions entitled "Why Brain Science Matters to Educators," "The Future of Education," and Pat Bassett's closing session on the trends facing educators and the competencies necessary in the 21st Century, I am more confident than ever in Fork Union Military Academy's holistic approach to education.  There seems to be a trend toward giving students more of what they want rather than what they need.  We should write our own book on "The Importance of Returning to the Basics," helping to configure young minds in ways that build character, and create a foundation on which learning may grow.

Since this same day the nation was observing the Veterans Day Holiday, FUMA presented the colors to open the conference, and I was invited to provide the invocation.  I offer my prayer here:

"Dear God, we are free to worship you today, each in the faith and denomination of our own choosing, because young men and women are on the sea, in the air, and on the ground in lands we may not even know.

We are all blessed to be in the business of educating and inspiring young women and young men to be smarter, to be more physically fit, and to live lives of character and lives with meaning.

I believe we are on this Earth to serve you.

Please bless us with wisdom, with energy, and with discernment as we gather together this special day.

We pray today for this great nation, as we pray for every nation around the world.

May you spread the gift of peace that will allow us to love each other as you intended from the beginning until the end.  Amen."

At the BGAV Conference I addressed the Virginia Baptist Mission Board membership and spoke of the work done here at Fork Union.  It was new member orientation combined with a business meeting for the entire membership.  This Board is influential in the various ways the BGAV invests its funds, and my prayer is that they will see great value in the vital mission field here at FUMA. 

I told them who we are [a top quality college preparatory, Christian, military school], and who we are not.  I also shared our latest initiative to bring in a young intern to act as a youth minister, with the goal of having as many as three young men to support our ministry efforts.

The highlight today was our National Honor Society Induction Ceremony.  This is a ceremony run primarily by cadets, and was exceptional.  We had a surprise song by a choir made up of our postgraduate football players, who sang brilliantly and with amazing support from all the other postgraduates.  It was heartwarming to see these young men perform and receive so much support from their classmates.

Our Upper School Choir sang an arrangement of "When the Boys Come Home," and we were led in prayer by Cadet Austin Stone:

"Lord, we give you our utmost gratitude for waking us up this morning.  We come into your house to recognize the gift of intellect that you granted to those who pursue it.  We thank you for your presence, whether in the classroom, on the athletic field, or in our spiritual lives.  Lord, I ask that you bless and watch over this ceremony.  Help us come with open hearts to congratulate our fellow classmates.  God, we realize these achievements are only possible through you, and we thank you for that.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen."

It was a terrific day of recognizing achievement and service. 

I will close with a note I found on my desk...dropped off there while I was away.  Two cadets (Cadet Han and Cadet Tompkins) handcrafted for each FUMA veteran a blue and red ribbon.  Each ribbon had a note with our theme for the month [Gratitude] as its title, and these words:

"We thank Veterans for protecting who we are.  We thank all FUMA for making us a shining star.  Most of all we thank God for whom all our blessings are more than par."