News & Blogs

Place of Happy and of Sad

Desperate and completely uncontrolled

My future unforeseen and unforetold

A scared boy looks in a man's eyes and says yes sir

My sweaty palms shake his hand firm

He looks to my father then

And says we'll take real good care of him

And when it was time to say good bye

A tear fell down my father's eye

He said son I am so proud of you

I hugged his neck and said thank you

He said now go be strong and make a man

Just as I know you can

He drove away and that was that

Alone and no one knew my past

That night I looked upon my ceiling

Scared and exited all in one feeling

I thought to myself is this where I belong?

Unsure of what was to come.

There are many stories of times we had

In this place of happy and of sad

Nights gone by and so did a tear

They have been shed by all men here

Shine your shoes cut hair and shave

Get in step don't misbehave

These sounds are familiar to us all

Grumble, groan, scruff, musk, and gall

We are connected by similar past

Brothers we become for life to last

Corps of Cadets and Staff Earn Presidential Unit Award from RADM J. Scott Burhoe

RADM J. Scott Burhoe addresses the Middle School Battalion during today's presentation ceremony of the Presidential Unit Award.

In an historic first at Fork Union Military Academy, a Presidential Unit Award was presented to the entire Corps of Cadets, and staff and faculty of the Academy today. This award is a special unit award given at the discretion of the President of Fork Union Military Academy.

In the words of Academy President, RADM J. Scott Burhoe, "this has been the hardest and maybe the longest winter I've ever endured." He made his remarks at a ceremony in Wicker Chapel in which the awards were formally presented to the Corps.

"Fork Union is challenging enough, but to layer on this winter made it even more challenging. This winter should have taught you the same lesson it taught me: It's not the situation or circumstances around you that defines you, it is what you do with them and how you act during them. Do you give up when things get hard? Or do you let it make you stronger?

"This winter, I watched cadets, faculty, staff, and administrators get stronger from the challenge. I saw determination, and tenacity.

"In the armed forces, when units go through a particluarly challenging period and excel, they earn unit awards. These awards signify successful work as a team. So today, I am awarding each cadet, and every member of the faculty and staff the first ever Presidential Unit Award from the President of Fork Union Military Academy. It will be worn over the right pocket by cadets and uniformed staff, and non-uniformed staff may wear it as well. It unites us in our mission here."

Thirteen FUMA Alums Compete for Post-Season Championships

Since post-graduate basketball separated from prep basketball prior to the 1970-71 season when legendary coach Fletcher Arritt took over, the PG program has sent over 450 athletes to the collegiate level to compete. Currently, our program has roughly 40 alumni playing basketball at higher levels with a few playing the sport at the professional levels. Of the close to 40 alumni playing collegiate basketball, there are thirteen former players who are participating in the four post-season tournaments division one basketball has to offer.

The main tournament is the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship. A single-elimination tournament played each spring currently features 68 college basketball teams to determine the national championship. Created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the event is widely known as March Madness or the Big Dance. The tournament includes champions from 32 Division I conferences, which receive automatic bids, and 36 teams which are awarded at-large berths. The field is divided into four regions. The champions of each region meet in a pre-chosen metropolitan area to compete in what is known as the Final Four. The winner of this last event is crowned the National Champion.

Modeling after the radio program "This I Believe", FUMA 6th grade cadets recorded statements of their own beliefs and values.  Please click on the links below to listen to their stories. 

Why Settle for Good When Great is Available?

Spring has officially arrived.  The bright sunshine and a warm breeze today couldn't have been scripted any better.  There was a bit of "spring fever" rumbling among the cadets at Chapel, as our Youth Minister encouraged them to read Proverbs.  Proverbs could be considered a manual for the young...teaching how to "get along" and succeed in life.

Early this week the Chaplain told me about a seminar he'd attended where the speaker used the expression "why settle for good when great is available?"  He knew I'd love the expression, and want to use the phrase in my blog...so he quickly and effectively integrated it into his Chapel message.  He reminded everyone that great is available to all of us...so we should take advantage of every opportunity.

The message brought light to a fairly gloomy day...below freezing...ice and snow on the ground.  After Chapel I asked a cadet where he spent his Spring Break.  He told me he went someplace warm...and when I asked him where, he told me he'd spent the last week in Richmond, VA.  It confirmed my suspicion that more than a few cadets believe Fork Union is the only place with cold, clouds, and snow.

Spring Break brought quiet to campus.  Many took advantage of the time to rest and recharge for the dash to graduation.  The Middle School graduates in 62 days, and the Upper School in 64 days...with much to be done between now and then...including Alumni Weekend which is the first Saturday and Sunday in May.  While we are operating with only 75% of our normal Alumni Relations staff, plans are proceeding nicely, and a flyer should be in mailboxes very soon, if not already there.

Today, a posting from Facebook made its way around the faculty and staff which raised all our spirits.  It was posted to one of the alumni discussion groups, and everyone here drew some inspiration from the words of a member of the Class of 1989 [edited slightly for brevity]:

"I read a lot of (what I consider) silly posts that take the stand that because the barracks have air conditioning and gargantuan sized (20-inch) flat screens and that because cadets don't have to stand at the bottom of Hatcher to sneak in a 10-minute phone call that the school is now [not as good as it once was].

First of all - I don't see how "easy" it is to be a cadet there. For today's [youth], not being able to stroll around campus with their head tilted downward while they text/tweet/snapchat on a mobile device is far greater restrictive than [waxing decks]...

...what was FUMA about for you? I ask this because I've pondered the question a lot as I've read the posts lamenting the changes. For me - what I took from FUMA really had little to do about the toughness I acquired from sleeping in a cold room with LOUD pipes [in Snead or Memorial Hall]. For me it was about a distraction-[free] environment where I could focus on what matters: school.

I wish I had participated in far more activities than I did - but the Academy certainly made them available...

Accountability: We had the rules laid out clear as day and there were repercussions if we didn't abide by them;

Leadership: It was up to me to find a way to get my platoon on board with taking pride in who we were. It was up to me to look after the kids who were struggling. It was up to me to be fair, and set an example. I did OK in some areas, failed [in others, but] I still learned a lot about leadership that I carry to this day.

Values: You can't separate FUMA from Christianity. It was imbedded in the schools mission and remains the driving force of virtually all of the school's leadership.  Beyond Christianity...the value of hard work, not taking shortcuts, treating everyone with respect - these are timeless and useful.

Friendship: I feel a bond with you guys that for the most part I didn't develop with my friends from college - I think it was because we had to work together to achieve our goals.

Pride: In how I present myself and how I treat others. People draw conclusions - right or wrong - from your appearance. I keep that in mind...

Fairness: By that I mean - even on the most even playing field life isn't always fair.

...I still think [young men] who go through FUMA come away from the school with all of [those].

From what I can see about the school now, it's even better than when we were there. They reward academic achievement much more than they did when we were students (the ceremony for NHS inductees is an example), they teach leadership better (through a more rigorous OCS program - again one example)... a larger percentage of minorities and international students (the world is diverse...the school still has faculty that care a lot - and I promise you they teach at FUMA because they BELIEVE in FUMA as they could make much more money [someplace else]."

This post mirrored remarks from the Master Planning Kick-off Meeting yesterday, where past graduates (and current Trustees) told stories about people like Rosie Thomas, Jack Thompson, and Gus Lacy; one 1964 alumnus used the expression: "He showed me who I was."

The Phoneathon is in full swing this week, so I hope you've been kind (and generous) to the cadets who have been calling.  It isn't easy making "cold calls" like this, but the cadets have approached it with great enthusiasm.

The school is alive once again, as cadets readjust to the "Accountability - Leadership - Values - Friendship - Pride - Fairness" described above after nine days away...

As I was leaving the Coast Guard Academy, speaking to various groups around the campus, I said that I'd always wanted to have a "quote of my own." In a world where some say "everything has already been said," I took a chance by using this:

"Every action you take today, including the words you use, impacts the future.  You can't change the past, but you can shape the future through these actions and the words you choose." - RADM  J. Scott Burhoe.

As we educate, develop, and inspire the next generation of young men who will lead with character, the real joy comes from the impact we know we will have on the future.  We all pray that our actions and words impact each cadet in a positive way...a way that they will remember 25 years from now...50 years from now...and beyond...

We want them all to be great...even if good may be more easily available.

Go Spring!  Go FUMA!

Upper School - Leave Office April 4th

We are very happy to announce that an additional leave weekend was added to the Upper School Academic Calendar.  All cadets are eligible for this leave.  Leave begins at 12:30 on Friday, April 4th and ends at 7:30 PM on Sunday, April 6th. The regular weekend shuttle will run to the Richmond airport, bus and train.  Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance.

Happy Spring!

Robbin Dodson