At a "Policy Time" meeting earlier this morning the senior staff/administrators reviewed plans for the first Upper School leave weekend, Parents Weekend (17-18 October), VAIS accreditation, and discussed plans for cadets who find themselves with too many demerits too fast. As we discussed one final issue regarding how staff members should respond when cadets use cell phones handed to them by parents (and girlfriends) when they visit campus, we went off on three different tangents.
One of those tangents was a discussion on the Dining Facility dress code, and what should be allowed given what seems like a general "dressing down" in America today. After a few minutes of discussion, I ended our meeting by saying how blessed we were that the school year was going so well that we could take our valuable time and talk about dress codes and today's fashion trends. While dress codes are important, we truly have been fortunate this year to have the time to discuss these details.
COL Todd Giszack was my "guest blogger" last week. Betsy and I were away from school for two days celebrating my 60th birthday. This is the first one I've celebrated since adulthood...it seemed special for some reason...beyond the senior discount at Regal Cinema. I spent two full days in the mountains, hiking the Appalachian Trail to Mount Whitetop, riding my bike on the Creeper Trail, and taking long walks through and around Green Cove, VA, with a side trip to Virginia Tech...perhaps to feel 18 again.
I was also away for a few days with my duties as Chairman of the Virginia Council for Private Education Board of Directors. This group represents those who accredit private schools throughout the Commonwealth, including the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, through which Fork Union is accredited.
On Monday cadets took their First Term Semester Exams...signifying the term's half-way point...a few cadets smiled as I saw them and said "It is hard to believe that 10% of the school year is already behind us...time goes too fast doesn't it?" Of course each replied with a hearty "Yes, sir!," but on certain days they must think time can't go by fast enough.
While it will be invisible to the casual user, we've been working to migrate our current website from a "one man show" managed by Dan Thompson, our Director of Communications, to Finalsite, which will give us the opportunity to decentralize all the updates and add additional functionality. The site will have the same domain name: www.forkunion.com, but will look different, and be easier to keep current and personalize. Look for more information to come about some useful features of our new website that you will enjoy using, and look for the new site to go "live" sometime soon.
We've also been working with UnderArmour as we consider standardizing all our athletic uniforms and cadet athletic clothing. I visited their headquarters in Baltimore two months ago, and meet with Kevin Plank '91. In addition to creating and producing a world-class product, UnderArmour also includes motivation and a positive attitude...free with each purchase.
The UnderArmour workplace was energizing and exciting. The visit caused me to recommit to my own fitness level and a few pieces of technology to help me along the way...a fitness tracker (Jawbone) and intelligent scale (Withings). These tools have helped these last few months, along with a pair of UA Speedform Apollo shoes (please click the link to see the video) and some new gear. We'll consider a few proposals and keep parents and alumni informed of our final decision.
Part of my interest, is that I believe the quality and appeal of UnderArmor means that cadets will wear the PT gear all summer...and long after they graduate. Before I even arrived here I started planning for a day when every graduate would wear a Fork Union shirt. Right now we are planning for that to occur on September 30, 2015. This is the anniversary of our founding in 1898. Please stand by for more detail...and get your shirts ready.
I've mentioned our new Campus Master Plan more than a few times, and look forward to the final presentation by Glavé & Holmes Architects at our Board of Trustees meeting in October. Once the plan is approved, we will distribute details, and arrange a series of presentations that chart the exciting future for our campus facilities.
One of my favorite activities here, in addition to the Corps of Cadet reviews, is to attend Chapel services on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I typically get there early, ahead of the cadets, and enjoy seeing the preparations, and the cadets quietly filing into their seats. It is a way to gauge overall health, "morale," and fatigue. I've already seen the positive impact of the additional time we've provided for sleep/study/reflection. Today's message was particularly uplifting, as it focused on looking after those less fortunate.
The service started with a prayer by Cadet Lieutenant Bamisile:
Dear Heavenly Father, we look deep into your mighty word and see the glory of the new world you will create according to your justice and truth. We thank you for giving us this joy on Earth in the midst of all our toil and striving. Protect us and in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Scripture tells us that it isn't enough to do good works. We must also look after those who need our help. We cannot ignore those less fortunate, or those who are being victimized in some way.
Quoting first from the Book of Obadiah, Chaplain Benson segued to brief remarks from Cadet Lieutenant Brady, who addressed the Corps of Cadets about UNICEF's appeal to support the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Interact Club has chosen this as a project this year, and a company competition has begun to raise $1,500 to donate from Fork Union Military Academy. I've enjoyed the increased cadet involvement in day-to-day school activities this year.
Our juniors, seniors, and postgraduates welcomed more than forty colleges at our annual college fair in Estes Athletic Center. It was exciting to see so many colleges represented and hear the positive comments on the demeanor of our cadets, whose eyes gleamed with interest...yet clearly showed the weight of this important decision. Well, enough tangents...I better get back to work...