The Breath of God
Last week's blog may have generated more interest and activity than any other. There are many alumni asking how they can replace or resize their rings. The notes of appreciation for putting focus on this symbol of school pride are inspiring...and LTC Don Moore, our Director of Development (Alumni and Parent Relations) will communicate this information to all those interested.
It was a very quiet weekend, with most of the cadets away for Winter Leave. We hosted a wrestling tournament and community swim meet...Betsy and I stopped by to see Saturday's dinner, and the cadets remaining all seemed in good spirits...and the dining staff was feeding them all their favorite foods...even though only about 40 cadets remained on campus.
Monday's quiet allowed me to review and edit our draft strategic plan, and send it to our faculty and staff for their final comments and suggestions. It will be presented to the Board of Trustees for discussion at our Executive Committee Retreat in less than two weeks. I also reviewed and signed an agreement with Norwich University that will allow cadet leaders who meet certain academic standards to be "automatically" accepted into this terrific school.
Of course I'm a little biased because my father and his father are both Norwich graduates. This is a significant milestone, and we will soon also have an agreement with Marion Military Institute, a two year college used by the Coast Guard Academy and other academies to prepare cadets for their rigorous curricula.
This week also brought the excitement of National Signing Day, which signifies the beginning of the national signing period for high school seniors and postgraduates who formally commit to play sports for Division I and Division II colleges. We had four upper school cadets and three postgraduates sign letters of intent to attend Penn State, the University of Virginia, Eastern Michigan University, Western Carolina University and Sacred Heart University. Congratulations!
At the ceremony it struck me that while many may see this as an athletic achievement, it is as much about academics. Current NCAA standards make it more difficult to earn a scholarship, but those who enter college and play sports will now be more likely to graduate [because they are better prepared academically for college]. Our cadet-athletes have the benefit of "Spirit" in addition to "Body and Mind," which gives them integrity, respect, faith, character, and discipline. Please see the pictures on our website.
The Chapel Service centered on Ezekiel 37. While I was only able to attend the first of a two part series, I am always captivated by stories of how God uses people for His purpose...defying logic and human understanding...and sometimes conflicting with our desires. I was particularly struck by the Chaplain's last statement: "...without the breath of God, there is no life," So I spent some time this evening learning about the meaning of these passages, and hope the message made the cadets equally curious.
This week I attended the Middle School Faculty Meeting, and was impressed by the discussion of cadets who needed special attention, extra help, or who faculty members referred to as "FUMA success stories." The discussion highlighted an important partnership among parents, cadets, faculty, staff, and administrators. We all need to be aligned and working in a common direction.
On the "not so positive side," I learned that in a few cases parents have tried to send their sons items that are not authorized at FUMA...sometimes cleverly disguised in packages of food. I have to admit that in my naiveté I would never have expected that a parent might put their son in a position to receive disciplinary action...or put the staff in a position to have to spend time "double checking" packages.
Today, Laurie Baker, our Human Resources Director, LTC Rob Feathers, the Middle School Headmaster and I attended a day-long professional development workshop entitled "Legal Issues for Academic Administrators." It covered issues like hiring, managing performance, labor and employment law, and student safety on (and off) campus. Again, another day that expanded my ever-growing "to do list," yet was a day well-spent comparing notes with colleagues and the VAIS staff.
This week we also learned that Ms. Marion Moon, a member of our Board of Trustees, accepted our invitation to speak at the Middle School Graduation. Marion champions the Board's interest in providing increased access to Fork Union Military Academy's superior holistic education. We look forward to hearing her commencement address on May 23rd.
I sat down this week with Ms. Bev Hanlin, our Registrar, to discuss some specifics about this year's Upper School graduation. As was done last year, the undergraduates may depart after marching in the parade on Friday May 24th, which allows the faculty and staff to spend quality time with the Class of 2013. Undergraduates who desire to stay overnight and attend the Upper School graduation may do so. Graduation will begin promptly at 1030 on May 25, 2013, just 105 days from today.