Connecting the Dots
I am writing this blog from a hotel room in Roanoke, VA. Tomorrow I will be attending a program called "Saving Buildings/Building Savings" to learn about financial incentives to sustain historic campuses. Fork Union Military Academy certainly falls into this category, and while we are doing everything we can to make the most of our aging facilities, there is much more work to be done, and this program will open up opportunities to partner with the Commonwealth of Virginia, and learn more about grants available to support our revitalization efforts.
FUMA has a long-standing tradition of having the President deliver Virginia hams and Poinsettias to trustees and supporters. I've driven over a thousand miles these last seven days, and enjoyed each meeting, because every conversation allowed me to "connect the dots" between relationships, and better understand the very rich history in Fork Union and at this school. I even received a visit by The Sneads of Fluvanna. Of course the Whites, Sneads, and Seays are as much a part of FUMA history as was Dr. Hatcher, our founder. I learned that Harriett Johnston's grandfather's blacksmith shop was in the location of our current fountain, and that all the FUMA land passed through many hands on its way to becoming our school.
A common theme through every visit was the commitment of everyone associated with FUMA, and the admiration for the faculty and staff.
My highlight this week was time spent with the Debate Club. In between traveling, meeting with contractors and business people, staff meetings, and late nights signing annual giving letters and responding to hundreds of emails, I met with this small group of cadets and listened to the first draft of their presentations. This hour reminded me why I came to Fork Union Military Academy; and seeing the confidence, intelligence, and energy in these young men was inspiring. Our mission is to educate, develop, and inspire young men in a college preparatory, Christian, residential environment. Our cadets learn confidence, responsibility, leadership, and discipline in a positive atmosphere of mental, physical, and spiritual growth. All those qualities were evident in these students; who spoke, listened, and adapted with tremendous ease.
The next most inspiring moment may have been meeting with one of our recent alumni, Phil Wall. Phil, PG Class of 2003, attended Williams College, in Williamstown, MA. He is a free-lance filmmaker, and is in the final stages of making a movie highlighting COL Fletcher Arritt's success as a basketball coach, leader, and mentor. The film is called "The Passing Game," and this weekend I look forward to watching the rough cut. Phil was bright, engaging, confident, yet considerate and respectful...qualities I've admired in every graduate.
This weekend we will welcome over 20 families at an Open House, as we work toward increasing our enrollment this January. My hope and prayer is that everyone learns the value Fork Union Military Academy brings to the lives of young men (and their families). We need to fill up our new Upper School (High School) dormitory in the Fall of 2012, and fill up our Middle School. We are also hosting a basketball tournament, and holding a special dinner for families hit hard by these tough economic times (put on by our Fellowship of Christian Athlete cadets).
As I learn more about the rich and complex history of this special place called Fork Union, we are taking time to create a little history of our own.
J. Scott Burhoe
President, Fork Union Military Academy
Rear Admiral, USCG, Retired