For loyal readers, this blog has something for everyone...military, Christian, and college-prep. Today's Chapel message spoke of soldiers, leaders, and followers. We had a "guest speaker," our own Captain Jason Biette, who teaches Environmental Science, which took the place of Earth Science taught for many years by COL John Ransone.
His message was based on 1 Samuel 14, and Jonathan's courage to follow God, even though it would cause him disfavor with his father [Saul]. To follow God is an exercise in faith, and it is important not to be swayed by the criticism of others. Each of us faces challenges, but God remains in control.
Aligned with our emphasis on character and leadership, the lesson illustrated that showing faith encourages people to follow...and that we should all have faith so strong that others take notice and want to follow our lead.
I enjoyed his ending, when he said that God "called some of us to bear the sword, and some the armor," but regardless must accept our calling faithfully...
My highlight for this blog did not involve a cadet, although there are a number of positive examples I could have used this week. Instead my highlight was a short meeting with a faculty member's child. Eight year old Ella made an appointment to visit and ask me a question. At first she sat in the "hot seat"...the chair in my office where people brief me on issues...or where the cadets sit during "counseling" sessions.
Just before asking me her question, she decided it might be safer to sit next to her father on the sofa...and then said:
"The dining hall staff works hard for us every day and I would like to honor them with a meal. I am going to ask the staff to bring food for a potluck. I will email the staff asking for their support. I would like to have a lunch on November 21st at the Estes Center."
At 8 years old I was searching for a good deed to turn my Bobcat Pin right side up...and may have opened a door for someone. She made an appointment with the head of the school where her father worked to thank a group of hard working people who work tirelessly day in and day out. Of course I said yes...as it reinforced in my mind the strength of community and family we have here at Fork Union.
Much of my time was filled by writing thank you letters to the many who have been generous to the school. The 2013-2014 fiscal year (July-June) saw an increase in giving, particularly in the area of scholarship support for those who might not otherwise be able to afford the full cost of tuition. While tuition revenue does not come close to providing all the school needs to operate year-to-year, it is still a significant investment for a shrinking middle class...but that may be a story for another blog.
We were blessed by a commitment this week by the Dwyer family, who established an endowed scholarship. Paul Dwyer III ’76 attended for four years and reflects positively on his experience here. We are working with each graduating class to establish at least one endowed scholarship per class year, and welcome others who are considering creating endowed scholarships.
In a future blog I will provide some compelling stories about a growing number of young men here who have found the school, approached their parents, convincing them that "Fork Union Military Academy is where they need to be to reach their goals" whether they aspire to attend a Service Academy, attend the civilian college of their choice, or simply reach their full potential (athletically, academically, or attitudinally). These young men are having a remarkably positive impact on our Corps of Cadets.
We've had several soccer games, cross country meets, football games...the Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosted a monthly "See You At The Pole," where many cadets, faculty, and staff prayed for family members, colleagues, and fellow cadets...and I wrote countless letters of recommendation for cadets seeking congressional nominations, or entry into a selective list of colleges...and even spent an afternoon speaking to a young man from Charlottesville who is applying for the Coast Guard Academy.
We also hosted the Chair and Vice Chair for our Virginia Association of Independent Schools decennial accreditation visit. This visit is scheduled for April, and we've been working hard for more than a year to prepare a self-study narrative report, which is used as a foundational document for the visiting team. This accreditation process has guided us to make a number of improvements...and continues to provide a framework for positive reflection...and while I'm not supposed to say this, we'll be glad to put the actual visit behind us...and use the energy in other ways that benefit the school.
On Tuesday we hosted Mr. Colin Hanna as the first speaker in our Christian Leadership Series. He toured the campus, and addressed the Upper and Middle Schools. His personal message of faith was inspiring, and his presence lifted the school. We are blessed that Mr. David Barrett organizes and accompanies each speaker. Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring USA, Inc., a non-profit public policy organization committed to promoting Constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values.
He is a U.S. Navy veteran, and has been a guest with Megyn Kelly, Hannity and Colmes, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, Dayside, Fox & Friends, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Big Story with John Gibson; Special Report with Brit Hume, and The Lou Dobbs Report.
For the Class of 2015, it must be refreshing to know that next week will signal that only 80% of the school year remains...and we know they "saw the light at the end of the tunnel" after their first meeting with Ms. Holly Sidwell, our Josten's representative, to talk about graduation announcements, mugs, and invitations.
Now I know why I wrote these every week...already at a thousand words, and still much that should have been said...but all I have time for is...
Go Parents Weekend! Go First Formal Review! Go FUMA!