The President's Blog

From the President of Fork Union Military Academy, Rear Admiral J. Scott Burhoe.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

In education and industry each year seems to end in hyperspeed.  At Fork Union Military Academy we just finished the second term [of five], and are making a special effort to personally visit our trustees and friends this holiday season.  I've spent much more time than usual on the road these last few weeks, and will be off campus much of next week.

Today was my only full day at school this week and at the end of the day I realized that I'd been so busy I never left Hatcher Hall (including no exercise or lunch).  I was too busy hosting meetings, teleconferences, and making phone calls required to get things ready for the new year.

I may abbreviate this blog, somewhat selfishly, because I want to watch our postgraduate basketball team play Hargrave this evening.  Our Corps of Cadets will also attend...but may have to leave before the second half to return for CQ.  As my wife was proofreading my last blog she said "Is what you wrote about the Call to Quarters really true?"  I told her it does sound too good to be true, but it really happens that way.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with a trustee whose grandson attended FUMA for his last three years of high school.  During a recent visit to his college, his grandson told him that his only regret was not spending all four years here.  His grandson has a real advantage over his classmates because he knows how to study, and has the discipline to actually spend time studying every night.

...well, I'm back from the game...a very exciting triumph over Hargrave Military Academy, a very good PG basketball team.  Congratulations to Matt Donahue, our coach, to our team, and to our Corps of Cadets for a very enthusiastic game.

We are also very proud of our cadets for having collected 6,260 pounds of food for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  This was 500 pounds more than last year...pretty amazing how many people this will feed over the holidays.  What a terrific way to learn about how to serve others, and the cadets will forever remember how long it took to load the food onto the truck.  Please see the pictures on our website, and the picture below:

COL Todd Giszack, Ms. Sonia Brandon, CPT Sam Mavrick, and I attended an all-day session held by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) to ensure we fully understood our responsibilities for our Decennial Accreditation Visit.  I've been impressed by our Steering Committees work so far, and by the seriousness with which the faculty is approaching this task.  It requires tremendous coordination and teamwork...and much discussion and writing, but the end reward will be continual improvement.

Many of you may have received surveys.  We don't control the survey instrument, these are provided by VAIS, but please do your best to answer the questions candidly, as this will allow us to focus on key areas.  Thank you for your patience as we work through this process.

Sadly, we are a smaller school tonight.  All but five of our postgraduate football team members departed this afternoon after their final exams.  The NCAA allows students to enter college in January, so many choose to leave FUMA after just two terms to get a head start on college classes and additional physical conditioning.  I believe all of them are better for the experience, and all of them left with close friends, who they will cherish for a lifetime.  Congratulations to all those who found their way to college scholarships as a result of the academic enrichment gained here at Fork Union Military Academy.

This weekend we will host our third annual Operation 25:40.  This service activity sponsored by our Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Catholic Cadet Association is based on scripture from Matthew 25:40 which says: "And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."  Cadets and faculty sponsored economically disadvantaged families, providing gifts for the children, and necessities for the parents.

We will host the families in our dining facility; have a large dinner, a Christmas play, and even a visit from Santa Claus.  This is a very heartwarming evening, and provides an opportunity for the school community to spread the true meaning of Christmas.

I am looking forward to our holiday meal next Thursday evening...our last dinner together as faculty, staff, and students until 2014.  This special Christmas feast is similar to our Thanksgiving feast, and becomes a fond memory for many cadets.  This will be my last blog until 2014.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I plan to spend as much time as possible with Betsy, Aaron, Amy, Tracey, Eric, James, Emily, John, and yes, even Hannah.  I also have plans to visit my mother in Florida.  She tells me she's been going to the gym three times a she'll probably give me a run for my money.  I also plan to run, read, swim, and bike...gathering energy to finish strong and faithfully in what is shaping up to be one of the best years ever at FUMA.

Be safe...count your ever thankful...and serve others before you serve yourself.


Be Always Ready On Every Continent

One evening before Thanksgiving, I spent time in Jacobson Hall observing our study period, what we refer to as CQ or "Call to Quarters."  This is more than just quiet time...but a focused, supervised, regulated [almost] two hours each evening when Upper School cadets sit at their desks and study.
It was so quiet as I walked along through each passageway (hallway), that each footstep made a sound, and the building looked empty unless I encountered one of three faculty officers monitoring CQ.  I passed by each room twice...randomly moving up and across our 500 bed dormitory.  It was impressive to say the least, as I did my best not to distract the cadets from their studies, knowing that some were probably thinking "Why is the Admiral here tonight?" to which I would have answered "Just checking."
Thanksgiving break was a wonderful time to rest here at Fork Union, where I enjoyed the swimming pool, running paths, aerobic room, and weight room...and even challenged myself to the cadet physical fitness workout.  We also took advantage of the quiet time to visit our children and grandchildren in Virginia and Maryland...along with the traditional feast.   I've also missed my granddog Hannah, so took the opportunity to take a few extra walks before and after dinner.
This week we all returned to the FUMA routine, but with only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break, there is a sense of urgency...about finishing the second semester (next Friday only 60% of the school year will remain)...and about planning important work to benefit our school.  Everyone returned safely Monday evening, and by Tuesday we resumed staff meetings, classes, athletics, chapel service....
I enjoy this Season of Advent...this spirit of anticipation and expectation...a focus on the birth of Jesus, and celebration of prophecies come true.  As the Chaplain spoke of the 60 prophesies fulfilled, and the odds [ten to the seventeenth power] of only six of them coming true, let alone all 60.  It was a moment that made me glad to be in Fork Union for the holiday season.  Being an hour away from shopping malls and "big city life" is a blessing, because it is easy to turn attention back to the things that really, good friends, and service.
Seeing the cadets in Chapel as they listened to the message was a reminder of the sanctuary we provide, and that every day is a fresh start...that no matter who you may have been yesterday, you can be who you want to be today...each day is a new beginning.  Fork Union is a good place to be...not just a good place to be from.
On Wednesday I wandered the campus, stopping in a few classrooms, and looking into others.  There are few things I enjoy more than observing the learning process...seeing students challenged with questions, struggling a bit to find the answers, seeing fellow cadets assisting classmates discover solutions, and teachers summarizing and facilitating what  had just been learned.  
I am always humbled by the mathematics classes, and should probably spend more time there.  I'm confident that my struggles with Calculus would have been eased if I'd solved a problem or two on COL Nothnagle's chalkboard, or been encouraged by LTC Muench.  
I also enjoyed a conversation with an alumnus from the Class of 1964 who said "If not for the foundation I received at FUMA, I would not be where I am today."  He is a college graduate with two degrees, and a successful business owner with a deep love for life-long learning...and he and his classmates may set attendance and enthusiasm records for their 50th Reunion this fall.
Today was a real gift.  We hosted the first of three speakers for our Christian Leadership Series.  Mr. Steve Stirling, Executive Vice President for Child Fund International was our guest, and accompanied by Mr. David Barrett, a member of our Trustee Board.  After a lively performance by our praise band, Mr. Stirling spoke of contracting polio as a child, and being taken to an orphanage by his father when he was almost six years old.
He and his sister were adopted by a family from Alaska, and he worked hard to concentrate on what he could do, rather than what he could not.  His message was powerful, personal, and resonated with young and was a message that acknowledged the trials, tribulations, challenges, and setbacks we all face.  He encouraged us to prepare ourselves for these storms, because we all know they will come.  It was clear from all his interactions throughout the day that he is a prayerful Christian example of strength and grace.
He complimented us on the respectful and disciplined cadets, and clearly appreciated the important mission to educate, develop, and inspire young men who will lead with character.  He urged each cadet to make the most of their time at FUMA, and take full advantage of every opportunity.  God has placed each of us here for good reason.
The next two weeks will be whirlwind of studying, community service, sports, maybe a winter storm, and visits to many Fork Union Military Academy supporters to deliver a traditional Virginia ham.  Over the next month I also need to solidify graduation speakers for the Upper School and Middle School graduations [believe it or not].
I'll end with a claim that I will challenge anyone to disprove.  Fork Union Military Academy is the only college preparatory, Christian, military school with a graduate on every continent in the world.  Below is a picture of Dale Helm, Class of 2008.  Although this picture was taken in 2011, Dale is in Antarctica for the third time...

Questions Answered

By the time you read this all the cadets will be off campus, and quiet will be back for the first time since early August.  An hour before the cadets finished class we hosted a question and answer session for parents interested in meeting with the Academy leadership.  Questions were submitted in advance, so that we could consider our answers and begin addressing any potential issues raised.

While there was much activity last week, this blog will focus on answering those questions.  My expectation is that while we only received a handful of questions, many more may be interested in the answers.

I'll start by saying thank-you to all those who submitted questions at our Parents Association Chair's request.  In grade school I was taught to answer a question by including the question in the answer.  I'm not planning to do that here...

Communication with Upper School TAC Officers and Faculty

First, I relearned that we can never communicate too much.  While we've greatly improved this area, it was clear from the questions that we have much work remaining.  Our Middle School (MS) sets the standard for communication.  There are a few reasons why, one of them is that there is one staff/faculty members for every 3 cadets in the MS, and this is age-appropriate. 

That ratio is cut in half as cadets move to the Upper School (US).  In the US, if you have a general question, we ask that you begin with the Tactical Officer (TAC).  Each company has a TAC, and companies are organized by grade.  For instance the 9th grade is Echo Company, and the TAC is MAJ John Justice.  A list of TACs, with phone numbers and email addresses, by company, is available here.  You may call or email the appropriate TAC. You can also find our Commandant's Department employees listed in our online Staff Directory.

If you don't get a response within 24 hours (less if it is an urgent matter) I recommend you contact either the Deputy Commandant or Commandant of Cadets.  While I'm confident you'll get an answer, if you are still unsuccessful, call my Assistant (Mrs. Carol Childress, 434-842-4323), or contact me directly.  My email is

We've greatly improved our communication regarding academic progress.  Every parent should receive an email from the cadet's teacher within the first week of class.  You may then use a program called PowerSchool to keep track of assignments and exams through each of 5 terms.  If you have a specific issue or concern, please contact your cadet's teacher.  If you do not get a response within 24 hours, contact either the Registrar or the Dean of Academics.  A list of all faculty members with contact info is available in our Download Forms center. Our faculty members are also listed in our online Staff Directory, and many have already been featured in Staff Spotlight articles on our website through which you can get to know a bit more about our staff members.

I've written about this before in my blogs, but I can assure you that your questions, concerns, or contact will not result in unfair treatment of your cadet.  As I gave a quick "travel and enjoy Thanksgiving safely" message to the cadets earlier today I reminded them that they are "our life's work" our reason for living.  In my tenure as President here I've only seen good come from outside inquiries, comments, and suggestions...never retribution or the projection of frustration.  I'm confident this trend will continue...

If you've not been contacted by email or phone by anyone at Fork Union Military Academy since your son arrived, it means we don't have your email address or phone number...or our emails are resting somewhere in your "junk mail" or "spam" folder.  You may provide that address, or multiple addresses, to our Admissions Office, or to the TAC.


A few asked questions about roommates and the assignment of roommates.  We are not scientific about roommate assignments, but perhaps someday we will add that level of sophistication.  Sometimes roommate selection works well, and sometimes it does not.  In college, and during my military career, my best experiences with roommates were when I didn't have one.  At the same time, many of my roommate experiences helped me learn to compromise, taught me that while we all have much in common, there are also clear differences among people.  Each of these experiences taught me something about myself, and helped me learn to adapt.

Our first response is for young men to try and work out any differences and concerns on their own.  If that doesn't work they should work within their cadet chain-of-command and with their Tactical Officer.  As a last resort we will move cadets...but many alumni who have "best friends" from FUMA, would not if the school had made it too easy to move.

Phones in Barracks Room

Each room shares a phone, and each phone has voicemail.  Cadets may call out during certain hours as listed on page 62 of the Upper School Cadet Regulations Book...and they may receive calls during those times. 


This morning we had our weekly "Policy Time" and discussed many of the questions.  One that we need to discuss more is the question of how to communicate "demerits" and the consequences and details of demerits received.  There are certain "thresholds" for demerits where parents will receive a call from either the Tactical Officer or the Deputy/Commandant of Cadets.  It is unlikely that a cadet will receive demerits and not know why.  If a cadet is heading toward "probation," a meeting with a Cadet Performance Review (yes, the acronym is CPR), or a "tribunal," you will be contacted.

The other day as I walked through the library, I asked a cadet (who had seen more than a few demerits in his tenure here) whether it was easy or hard to "stay out of trouble" here.  He's having a terrific year this year, his third at FUMA.  He was quick to say that it was easy to stay out of trouble...and that demerits are earned...not easily collected.  When demerit totals are examined, we always look to see who awarded the demerits, what the trends are, and what support the cadet needs to get back on track.  If you have concerns, call the TAC.  After that if you believe anything appears less than fair, refer to paragraph 6 of this blog.

Return Times for Day Passes and Leave Weekends

There was concern expressed with the differing return times for day passes and leave weekends.  I've asked the Commandant of Cadets to examine this policy and recommend possibly changing the return times to make them more consistent, and ensure that what is represented in our handbooks is the same as what you are told when you pick up your sons.  In general, we do not have staff/faculty here if your son returns from leave a day early.  We will make arrangements for that early return if you give us enough notice.


One question asked us to consider creating a mentor program for new cadets.  I would encourage everyone to read through Section 17 of our Upper School Cadet Regulations Book.  This is where the military structure and system is at its very best.  Every company (90 cadets) has an adult leader (Tactical Officer) and several cadet (student) leaders.  These leaders are hand-selected.  The Cadet Company Commander leads 3 Platoon Leaders (each platoon is 1/3 of a company), and each platoon is divided into 3 squads...each with a Squad Leader.  Theoretically each squad will be no more than 9 cadets.  These cadet leaders help us carry out the "Plan of the Day."

We have a mentoring program, but its success is clearly dependent on our ability to train our student leaders...and is a key strategic goal identified in our recent Strategic Plan.

Digital Citizenship

Some of my recent blogs spoke of our one-to-one laptop initiative, and our ability to monitor computer usage through a program called LANSchool.  I encourage you to visit this site to learn more.  Our interest is in developing digital citizens.  We want cadets to understand the proper use of available technology, digital etiquette, including rights and responsibilities, as well as their own digital health, wellness, and self-protection.  Some private boarding schools do not filter content, but we've chosen to filter content using a filter called smoothwall.

The Lord's Prayer asks God to "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."  There is much on the internet that tempts us...filtering helps us deliver cadets from evil...but sometimes also stops educational content that would assist develop critical thinking skills.  Our filtering system allows us to let that information through once a teacher or cadet brings the "unnecessary filtering" to the attention our Information Technology Staff. 

Our goal is to educate, develop, and inspire young men of character who are discerning enough to stay away from inappropriate websites...but improper computer use demerits have been frequent as we work through this development.

I'll close with two of the easiest questions to answer...

Hot Water in Estes Athletic Center

We have not had hot water in our Estes Athletic Center since the beginning of school.  Our "hot water heater," one 1000 gallon holding tank, had a catastrophic failure, and replacing it was going to require us to tear down an exterior building wall to install a new tank of the same size.  While it took a bit more time initially, we engineered a solution that will give us 3 smaller tanks (giving us the same total capacity) and save energy [money] (by turning 2 off during the summer and during breaks) and avoid the same problem in 12-15 years...sorry for the delay, but we'll have hot water back in the gym before the end of Thanksgiving.

Cadet Store

There were a few comments expressed about our Cadet Store and the availability of merchandise.  We've just completed investigating an online store which will be managed by our Alumni Board...and expect it to be up in the next month or two.  In the meantime, please contact Susan Goolsby if there are items you would like to purchase that you couldn't find when you visited the store, as she has the ability to special order items you may want.

Other Questions?

There were a few questions about textbooks, independent study, and PowerSchool that are difficult for me to answer adequately without more information.  For those who had specific questions about these areas, please contact COL Todd Giszack, our Academic Dean.

I'm about 800 words past my usual "blog limit," but enjoyed the conversation among our staff about these questions, their answers, and our current level of communication [to parents].  It is clear that while we've made this a priority, there are still gaps in our processes.  These questions will also help inform the "self-study" we've undertake for our Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) decennial reaccreditation efforts.

Final Thought

My final thought is perhaps the most challenging to communicate properly...but the most important...and it has to do with the second sentence in our Mission Statement which is: "Cadets build character and learn leadership, independence, confidence, responsibility, and discipline in a setting that encourages mental, physical, and spiritual growth."  One of the keys to learning is often the struggle of having to figure things out.

When I look back with a critical eye on my own parenting, I was too quick to fix everything for my children.  I didn't want them to struggle or wrestle with problems themselves.  After all, I could step in and make their lives more comfortable.  There is a "system" at FUMA, that while it is far from perfect, it provides a safe environment where cadets can struggle, and even fail on occasion, and be stronger for the lessons and the learning.

I once heard a cadet say that being at FUMA provides cadets "a glimpse at adult life."  There are few gifts more important than preparing young people for adulthood in a way that increases the odds of living a successful, meaningful, and independent life...certainly worth the struggle.


The True Meaning of Service

Last week ended with mid-term exams for the 2nd (of 5) terms.  For those who keep track of such things, the school year is 30% complete, with just 70% remaining.  At the Coast Guard Academy cadets would often say that the days are slow, but the weeks go by fast...for me, everything seems to be going fast...

On Saturday, the Alumni Association Board met, and I had an opportunity to provide an update...telling them that if they were reading the blog, had a copy of the strategic plan, and looked at the pictures at there was little else I could say...other than to answer any questions.

I couldn't be more pleased with the alumni support, and their helpful spirit.  Like our Trustees, they have a real heart for the school.  Cadets are here for anywhere between one year and seven...but after leaving (whether they graduate or not) they are alumni forever.

I delivered the Sunday Chapel message, which is published here: (RADM Burhoe's Chapel Message).  A few cadets came up to me after the service to discuss their God-given gifts, and to help me understand why so many cadets are successful here, yet a few still struggle.  One cadet made an observation that some "gifts" might also be "curses."  His example was the gift of imagination...I enjoyed the thoughtful perspective, and the challenge of helping him see how he could use this gift as a strength.

On Veteran's Day, MCPO Mike Wilton and I attended a luncheon in Fork Union at the Village Restaurant for WWII veterans.  This is the second time I've found myself in the midst of so many local heroes, including a prisoner of war, and a Marine who was among the first African Americans to integrate the Marine Corps and recently received the Congressional Gold Medal. 

There were stories of D-Day, sacrifice, separation, and service...but more than anything, in that room was a large dose of humility.  There wasn't an ounce of boasting...but instead an abundance of men who understood the true meaning of service, and were grateful for the opportunity to share good food and conversation with those of us who valued their legacy.

Our own Veteran's Day Ceremony later that evening started by observing Retreat (the flag being lowered in the evening), and laying a wreath at the FUMA Veterans' Memorial, where 57 names are etched into the wall, having given their lives in service to the United States.  LTC Kent Carter gave a memorable speech, urging us all to always appreciate our veterans' call to arms and sacrifice to preserve our freedom.

Tuesday brought the University of Virginia Director of Admissions.  We were pleased to host a visit and tour by this very selective college.  As many people already know, UVA occupies the No. 2 spot among all public universities in the U.S. News rankings, and is ranked in the Top 25 among all national universities, public or private.  We enjoyed the conversation focused on academic success, and discussed the importance of course selection, curriculum, and how best to prepare students for the critical thinking required to be successful at top-tier colleges...and the need to develop strong readers and skilled writers.

The week was filled with conversations with parents, representation at the Baptist General Association Conference, sub-committee meetings to prepare for our upcoming decennial VAIS reaccreditation, college recommendation letters, and even pictures taken for an advertisement in an international magazine to further expand the diversity of our Corps of Cadets...and an evening filled with enthusiasm and [mandatory] fun as we watched our postgraduate basketball team defeat Lynchburg College.  The cadets received a primer on how to cheer...and clearly listened well.

One morning I met with all of our Company Tactical Officers.  These are the staff members directly responsible for our military program, and the leadership development for our cadet officers.  This "pulse check" confirmed my observations that we are achieving that delicate balance between enthusiasm and discipline.  One of my favorite expressions is: "Don't let discipline be the enemy of enthusiasm."  The two can exist side-by-side...but the balance depends on maturity, good habits, understanding the reasoning behind rules, and the right positive examples...

Unity of effort and alignment...all student-centered...and focused on the mission of educating, developing, and inspiring young men in a college-preparatory, Christian, military environment is essential to our success as a school.  This week also brought notes from past graduates, former Coast Guard friends, and family...

Colonel Micky Sullivan, our Director of Athletics, who graduated from the Upper School in 1966, continued the chapel series on "being thankful." He thanked his mother who worked double-shifts as a nurse and "wore the same coat for 4 years" so that he could attend FUMA; thanked the teachers and coaches who held him accountable and taught him that he could be successful if he worked hard; thanked his family for their unconditional love...and the cadets who played on his teams.

He quoted a verse from Hebrews 12 given to him by his college football coach in 1967...which became his roadmap through life:

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us..."

One of my highlights this week was meeting with a small group of cadets interested in attending a Service Academy.  They know my favorite...and sometimes even get a little joy telling me that they are interested in attending West Point, Annapolis, or USAFA.  I tell them that all five are outstanding opportunities...and to take at least as much time researching what life will be like after graduation as what life will be like as a cadet or midshipman.

In the last 8 years we've had over 30 graduates attend a Service Academy...I'd like to see many more.


What is Your Gift?

Each of us has a God-given gift...something that makes us special and unique.  We may have gifts in common...athleticism, leadership, brilliance, gentleness, or vision...but we each have at least one special gift.  As I spoke with a young man this afternoon, a cadet struggling with the demands of Fork Union Military Academy and at some risk of being dismissed, I asked him: "What is your God-given gift?" 

Sadly, he paused for what seemed like hours, until I broke the silence to tell him that in the short time we'd talked I could tell that God had given him gifts of kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and that while I had no way of knowing, he looked like he might be a fast runner, as he was tall and thin.

I will be giving the Chapel message on Sunday, and plan to center my message on the importance of finding (and knowing) these gifts, and using them to their fullest...time is too short to dwell on our human weaknesses...we must realize and work from our strengths.

Speaking of gifts, Betsy and I were blessed with a third grandchild last Friday.  Our daughter, after a challenging night, morning, and afternoon of labor, had a son named John Thomas.  He is healthy, happy, and enjoying life (which consists of eating and sleeping).  It took me away from school for two full days and the weekend, but allowed us to spend time with our two other grandchildren...including a trip to Monkey Joes (fun) and Pizza Hut (mmmm).

This week was short, but still allowed time to create and hire a new position we've been discussing for quite some time.  On Monday we will welcome our new Activities Director, part-time until increased enrollment allows it to become full-time.  Ms. Amy Reese will help us move forward with our strategic goal to "Create an Environment that Balances Enthusiasm and Discipline."  If anyone is interested in receiving a printed copy of our new Strategic Plan, please contact Ms. Carol Childress at  

In addition to managing our current activities, she will create more on and off campus opportunities that support our integrated character and leadership development program, including service, academic enrichment, spiritual growth, and entertainment. 

While I've dubbed this "The Year of the Uniform," it could easily be "The Year of Great Food."  Staff, faculty, and their families enjoy the benefit of eating all their meals in the dining facility...the same meals, from the same serving lines, the same trays, plates, and silverware as cadets.  Every meal I've eaten has been delicious, nutritious (unless I grab the cookies, cake, or ice cream), and balanced.  This year we've been treated by sandwich stations boasting a choice of chicken, pork, or beef BBQ, meatballs, vegetables, or sliced steak; pasta stations; stir fry...and the homemade soups through the cooler months rival the soups any of our mothers have made (sorry Mom).

Yesterday I travelled to Christopher Newport University with our Board Chairman and met with the architectural firm hired to do their master planning and design their magnificent buildings. CNU has seen an amazing transition during the tenure of President Paul Trible, who arrived in 1996.  We intend to have this same firm assist with our planning efforts, bringing to life the vision articulated in Fork Union 2020.  I enjoyed the time Senator Trible gave to us, as generously as he gives time to his students and faculty...and believe (at least hope) that I captured some of his abundant energy and enthusiasm for helping young people live lives of significance.

There were a few highlights to my day today...beginning with a very generous donation by a Trustee Emeritus.  The [tax free] IRA distribution will allow us to provide scholarship support for at least three new cadets next year, and make some improvements (we otherwise would have deferred) to our campus security and infrastructure. 

We were treated at Chapel this morning with a "first" sermon by our Youth Minister Intern, Mr. DJ Williams.  His voice, inflection, and sincerity...and more importantly the way he tailored his message to the young men in our Corps of Cadets...made listening a real joy.  The Chaplain asked that we focus our November Chapel messages on thankfulness.

DJ made the case that we should be thankful for the sacrifices others have made.  While it is easy to believe that our past decisions made us who we are...the truth is that someone either recently or in the past sacrificed for us to achieve the blessings that surround us. 

My last highlight was presenting a FUMA "command coin" to the Middle School's Cadet of the Month for October, Cadet Jared Giszack.  This bright, energetic, hard-charging young man sets a stellar example for all of us...

This weekend we will host the Alumni Association Board for a series of meetings.  We've been impressed by the Class of 1964's 50th Reunion preparations.  Their sophistication, enthusiasm, and support for FUMA is inspiring, and if what we've seen so far continues, will set a standard for reunions.  Monday evening, November 11th, we will host our annual Veteran's Day Ceremony at the FUMA Veteran's Memorial, where LTC Kent Carter '66 will be our guest speaker.

I will end with the opening prayer delivered by Cadet Ro earlier today:

"Lord Almighty, thank you for everything you have given us.  Help us to see and understand your plan for our lives.  Help us not despair and fall into disbelief when it does not go our way, but help us understand and realize it is in your perfect plan.  Lord, help us to concentrate on today's word and bless today's speaker.  Protect the postgraduate football players at their game tomorrow, and guide them to better themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.  We love you and give all glory to you.  Amen."


The Only Way Around is Through

This quote by Robert Frost was referred to at the end of Weldon Bradshaw's remarks in Chapel today.  Mr. Bradshaw has worked at Collegiate School in Henrico for over 40 years as a teacher, administrator and coach, and is a free-lance reporter.

He spoke of his life-threatening liver disease, his life-changing transplant, the lessons that got him through, and what he learned from the experience.  He credited his faith and spiritual grounding, and talked about the need to "keep your head in the game, and make no excuses."

He urged everyone to be an organ donor...after all, a donated organ saved his life, and encouraged everyone to appreciate the strength and power of family and friends.  Using a sports analogy, he challenged everyone to outperform the performance list.  This list predicts where you should finish...he told the cadets to strive for more, surpass the status quo, and exceed expectations.

He ended his remarks by telling us to always be positive...and not waste time on negative thoughts.

He wrote an article in the Times Dispatch at this link, where he encourages everyone to "slow down...shut down the electronics occasionally.  Find time to read, to write, to take a leisurely walk, to think reflectively, to talk to one another, to savor the moment."  This is consistent with a recent article published by the Associated Press, at this link.

On my Twitter account (@Go_FUMA) I tweeted "Fork Union Military Academy leads the way again...ahead of our time..."  The recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics say that failing to limit access to personal electronic devices can have serious consequences.

According to the article, unlimited access has been linked with "violence, cyberbullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other problems.  The policy is aimed at all kids, including those who use smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices."  We remain one of the few schools to limit the use of cellphones to only those times away from FUMA, and our computer use policy reduces access to inappropriate websites.

The fall weather this week, a mix of cool, changing leaves, and increasing winds made walking the campus a real joy.  I made quite a few "rounds" this week, watching quiz reviews in Biology, watched a bit of Algebra/Trig, and saw a mixture of cadets engaged in their learning, and some already dreaming about Thanksgiving break.  The campus impressed me by its cleanliness, and the striking views shed from new sidewalks, and a FUMA without Memorial Hall, the Motor Lodge, and the William Frank.

These walk-arounds help give me a sense of the climate...something that is a little different each we work toward creating the culture described in Fork Union 2020.  These walks also help clear my head and gain perspective to do the hard work of organizing the new Governance and Enrollment Management Committees for our Board of Trustees, and creating a comprehensive campaign strategy to help us realize our long-range goals.

Early this week, after Tuesday's Chapel service, I spoke briefly with the seniors to commend them for winning Best Company (and the extra leave that goes with that), and for "leading the way" as they should.  To recognize their efforts we are flying the Class of 2014 flag from the dining facility...normally not flown before April. I also encouraged members of the graduating class to provide recommendations for a Commencement speaker, and will make this announcement shortly after the New Year.

On Wednesday we held a special formation on the Fraley Circle to present academic awards for Honor Roll (B for the term) and Dean's List (A for the term).  I presented over 50 awards to Alpha Company, and over 150 more were presented to the other four companies.  I spent a fair amount of the day in discussions regarding the best ways to market our school, expanding the commuting radius for day students, and ways to continually improve and sustain our postgraduate programs.

Earlier this morning we had our regularly scheduled "Policy Time," where we decided to very intentionally expand day school opportunities.  We also came to consensus on how to organize our decennial reaccreditation efforts, and even found time to discuss reinitiating our summer sports camps, and confirmed the "best dates" for Summer School.  While there was much healthy discussion, we will begin our summer program on June 29, 2014 and end on July 26th.  We also reduced summer school day student tuition.

The highlight this week wasn't the late afternoon discussion on reducing risk and vulnerability on campus (sorry Master Chief Wilton), it was a Middle School play about a Starfleet Stowaway.  This short play (please see the attached pictures) showcased good acting, creativity, and old-fashioned fun, even though the ethical message was serious.  As important and entertaining as the play, I most enjoyed the invitation...delivered in person by a young cadet who I overheard asking my Secretary if he could see me.


His example of poise and protocol could be followed by all.  It was a courteous and thoughtful invitation to share in his success.  "Admiral Burhoe, I wanted to invite you to a play tomorrow at 0955 in Thomas Gym, I hope you'll be able to make it."  I wouldn't have missed it...

Today was also our Upper School Civics Day.  Well represented by Republicans and Democrats, the cadets listened to the differing perspectives, asked questions and witnessed a debate.  Our visitors faced many hard questions...and it was encouraging to see the cadets with more questions than there was time for answers.  As the questions and answers brought forth much emotion, it reminded me of another quote from Robert Frost, which is that "Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."

This week I hope that all cadets will better understand the lessons that facing death can bring to life, and that they will each value the importance of education in having a civil society, because "the only way around is through."


A Life Well Lived

These words came to mind while listening to friends of Patsy Pulliam, a long-time employee of Fork Union Military Academy and wife to Colonel "Red" Pulliam, speak of her grace and graciousness.  There was standing room only in the Fork Union Baptist Church, and a farm full of people at the reception that followed.  Everyone had a favorite story about how Patsy touched their lives, and her focus on faith, family, and love.  Clearly a life well lived.

Steven Covey wrote of how we should "begin with the end in mind."  I've always viewed this as a habit where we consider how people will remember us when we are gone.  This speaks to our character.  Our reputation is defined by our character.  God provides us opportunities to have a positive impact.  As we serve others and do what is right, support others who do the same, we build our reputation...which is all that remains on earth when we are gone.

The level of activity here has been both relentless and enjoyable.  The preparation for Trustee meetings and Parent's weekend took me away from what I like most, which is engaging with individual cadets and participating in their activities, but this last week provided many of those opportunities.  Last week also brought important (but excruciating) meetings about the impacts of the Affordable Care Act, and its potential impact on employee health insurance, meetings and conversations with parents, and even a meeting with American Cancer Society representatives about future participation in the next Relay for Life.

One highlight was a meeting with Cadet Sodkkuu Anand, regarding the creation of a Global Citizens Club.  This young man is a cadet officer in his second year at FUMA, and is from Mongolia.  He spoke to me of the rich history and tradition at FUMA valuing international students, and of our vast cultural, racial, and ethnic diversity.  We've purposefully maintained our international student population around 15%, because we believe international families want their sons to attend an American school.

We have cadets from Africa, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, Mongolia, Poland, South Korea, Vietnam, along with 30 different states.  The Global Citizens Club will help us highlight the strength we gain from this diversity, give each of these students "a voice," and help students make even more connections with each other.  It will be open to all cadets.  I look forward to attending a variety of activities.

Last week we also had a rare treat when three visiting pastors from Kenya spoke in Chapel.  They gave us a country briefing, told us what it was like to be a Christian there, and of their appreciation for their time touring the United States.  The main message was as delivered as powerfully as I've ever heard, and centered on Paul's words to Timothy:

"Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor's crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this."

The message to cadets, while similar to what cadets hear from us often, sounded better coming from this pastor.  Being a cadet at Fork Union is not easy, but worth it.  This passage illustrates how in the same way soldiers must follow the orders of their superiors, athletes must follow the rules of the game, and farmers must work hard, cadets must be "all in" and do what is asked (and expected) of them without complaint. 

I left wishing out loud that this sermon could be preached a few more times (to all of us)...and was impressed by the way the cadets listened, and by their overall demeanor.  I know there is no other school in this nation where the students are as courteous and attentive to those who visit and speak.

The successful Trustee meetings ended with the Trustee Formation where the cadets looked impressive in their bright white shirts, and greeted each of the Trustees as they walked through Fraley Circle.  This is "The Year of the Uniform," and it was evident.  Of course, the weather couldn't have been better...and the campus looked wonderful.  The Parent's Dinner that evening brought more parents than expected (a very good thing), and allowed us the opportunity to speak of our academic excellence initiatives.

Fall sports are in full-swing.  Cross country, orienteering, football, soccer...middle school, junior varsity, prep, and shortage of competition, wins and losses...and at all the games and races I've attended, we've played with courage, skill, and sportsmanship.  Body, Mind, and Spirit are present in abundance here at Fork Union.

We had a rainy parade on Saturday.  While many cadets may have had their prayers answered, hoping for a "Circle Parade," something we invented last year, we knew parents would be disappointed if they left without seeing their sons "pass in review."  These pictures are also available on our website...just go to FUMA Photos.

We started this week by welcoming some new Upper School and a few new Middle School cadets, and look forward to seeing even more cadets arrive in December and January.  It is hard to believe that 20% of the school year is already behind us, and we are already discussing Summer School start dates and plans for next year.

Today started well, and ended even better.  I reviewed the results of the "Explore Test" given to our 9th graders.  This test helps students plan for college, and reassured me about the bright class we've assembled.  We are above the national average, and have many students in and above the 90th percentile in a number of categories.  I ended the day with our Debate Club.  There are twice as many members participating this year, and I listened to debates about the benefits (or harm) of domestic surveillance by the NSA, whether truth-seeking ought to take precedence over attorney-client privilege, and listened to "declamation" speeches written by President Obama and Winston Churchill.  It was a great way to end a full day at FUMA...

Well, I'm over my word limit, and have just scratched the surface on all that is Fork Union Military Academy these last two weeks.  I need to stay rested to visit my third grandchild, John Thomas, who is due in less than two weeks.  He is prepared for delivery (launching if he was a ship).  Being here at Fork Union has taught me much about the challenges of being an adolescent in today's world, and reassured me that the timeless practice of being surrounded by people working to live meaningful lives is the best way to help prepare young men for their future.

Go FUMA!  

Parents Welcome

One of the recent Chapel messages centered on what makes us do the right thing.  When four young men were interviewed on this subject they said everyone should have another person in their lives who they don't ever want to disappoint.

This happens when there is deep and abiding mutual respect.  We want to please those we respect...and will do nearly anything not to leave them disappointed.  This is far more motivating than fear of punishment...and creates healthy bonds.

One way to do this is by following Paul's words in Philippians 2:3-4:  "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Earlier today I read that young men are more likely than anyone to text while they are driving.  It isn't too hard to come up with reasons why that may be, but the message on this subject at Chapel was one that probably saved a life or two...yet made all of us who may drive distracted on occasion pay a little more attention...and these "life lessons" are important to pass along to cadets.

These simple but important messages, based on Scripture, help build character, and character must be built before leadership...leadership without character is dangerous, and unfortunately well illustrated by a number of recent retirements and reliefs of general and flag officers.

Last weekend we learned that a longtime friend and trustee of Fork Union Military Academy, Mr. Guy Beatty, passed away.  He built our infirmary, our library, and its recent expansion, and his annual scholarships support gave many of those without the financial means an opportunity to attend this college preparatory, Christian, military school.  He will be missed by everyone here, and it was clear from his "Celebration of Life" that his generosity, sense of humor, and determination impacted countless lives.

At Tuesday's Chapel service the Corps of Cadets and Faculty prayed this prayer:

"Dear Heavenly Father, this morning we lift up our hearts in thanks.  We thank you for the life of Mr. Guy Beatty, a dear friend of Fork Union Military Academy.  We ask, Lord, for hearts like his - generous hearts that seek to share the blessings that You give us.  We thank you for allowing our path to cross with Mr. Beatty's.  We ask for peace and comfort for his family, as they find themselves mourning the loss of a loved one.  Please place, Lord, people in their presence who will reflect Your love and compassion in this difficult time.  Again, Father, we thank you for the life of Mr.Beatty, and pray this all in the name of Jesus.  Amen."

This was a week filled with preparations, and many opportunities to talk with parents, cadets, trustees, and faculty about the many initiatives we've undertaken.  At the end of this week we will host the first of two annual meetings of our full Board of Trustees. 

This will be followed by Parents' Weekend, which includes the first formal parade of the year.  There is always a debate about putting these two major events together.  On Saturday we will also have a ceremony to officially open our new Social Center, which is now cadet-led.  This Center was made possible by the lead gift by Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, who will be recognized at the "ribbon cutting."

We are 90% complete with the removal of the Motor Lodge and Cadet Diner.  The view from Route 15 is considerably different.  We are also in the midst of tearing down the William Frank Hotel, just north of the Academy.  This large space will be converted to a multi-purpose field to be used as parking for sporting events, graduation, and formal reviews.

This week we had a first for Fork Union Military Academy.  Our newly formed "Battle of the Brains" team competed against Trinity Episcopal School earlier this week.  The match will air on CBS in Richmond on January 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM.  I won't tell you the result in this blog, but Cadets Kim, Cavotti, Bradley, and Hoyt made us very proud with their courage and their positive representation of this great school.

We are looking forward to hosting many parents this weekend, and I was asked to share with parents that if you have concerns/cares/issues, please let us know.  At each parent orientation I made clear that we are working harder to communicate clearly, and are on a path that allows us to adapt to change and continually improve.

I've been told that in the "old days" when a parent called a teacher, Tactical Officer, or anyone between them and the President, the cadet (their son) might suffer.  Those days, if they ever existed, are gone forever.  At today's Fork Union Military Academy we welcome the feedback, and learn and improve.  I encourage you to reach out to teachers, TACs, staff, and administrators with your questions/concerns.  If that doesn't yield the result you expected, email me directly.

You are also encouraged to contact our Parents' Association Representatives, Mac and Karen Devine.  Their son is currently the Cadet Sergeant Major here at FUMA, and their email addresses are and  Their phone numbers are available from Laura Luniewski at 434.842.4370.

I will close this week's blog by quoting a parent's recent letter about how well her son was doing here at Fork Union:

"So thank you for giving us this great story to share, for giving [our son] new dreams to chase, new people to meet, and a new life to live.  I know he will come out all the better for it, a man of honor and integrity, kindness and commitment.  I can see changes in him already.  This is a wonderful opportunity you have created for these young men.  We are forever grateful.  You are the angels here on earth.  We keep you and all at FUMA in our prayers.  Next to being here with us [our son] is in the next best place he could be."


Every Interaction Matters

When you think about events or words that may have influenced your entire life, what do you remember?  For me it is part of a conversation or two...a recollection of a few unplanned interactions that taught me lessons for a lifetime.

At Fork Union Military Academy we recognize that every interaction with cadets is an opportunity to have that lasting impact.  Each encounter must be intentional and thoughtful...and everyone should consider that their next conversation with a cadet may be the one they always remember.

These last two weeks have brought many such stories to light.  Coach Sullivan was traveling and met someone who said "I've heard your name often."  He was reunited with a former FUMA football player whose life he ways he didn't even realize at the time.

For my entire Coast Guard career, I told a story about an Officer Candidate School instructor who "squared me away."  After having me stand at attention, he told me to find military bearing by morning (it was already after dark).  If not, I would be a civilian again.  After asking my classmates where I might find "military bearing," I learned quickly that it was all about attitude and being totally committed to the program.

Thirty years after this life-changing event, I finally got the courage to visit this former instructor and thank him, only to find out that he didn't even remember the conversation.  For him it was just one of many that day, yet the impact it had on me was profound.

Every interaction we have with those we lead, must take that into consideration.  How do we want to be remembered? 

Earlier this week, while walking to work, I saw a young cadet who looked like he was dragging a bit on the way to class.  We exchanged salutes and a greeting, and I was amazed and encouraged to hear him say that time seemed to be moving quickly this year. 

FUMA, no matter what comforts we provide, will always be challenging and demanding.  The military rigor of daily personnel and room inspections, marching to breakfast, a full day of classes, compulsory athletics/personal fitness, evening retreat, and Call to Quarters (mandatory study time) makes for a full day. 

This past weekend, our first leave weekend for the Upper School, was a terrific time for many cadets to see their families and friends for the first time in several weeks.  I was interested in checking the morale of those who remained at school, so walked around the campus on Saturday afternoon. 

Cadets were watching college football in their rooms, practicing digital citizenship on their laptop computers, enjoying the Social Center, or working out at the Estes Athletic Center.  A small group from the Cooking Club picked apples, and made caramel apples for the evening movie.

While I was disappointed that no one had visited the Beatty Library (also open on Saturday and Sunday), many told me that young people don't spend much time in libraries any more...a trend we hope to reverse.  Every [appropriate] magazine and paper imaginable is available in our library, along with WiFi, and a magnificent book collection, to say nothing about the gifted librarian on duty...ready to help in an instant.

Last week we participated in the Annual Global Day of Student Prayer.  From their website: "Imagine the potential of Christians from all different churches and ministries at a school joining together in united prayer. 'See You at the Pole' brings teenagers to their school flagpoles to intercede for other students, their schools, families and nation, asking God to bring moral and spiritual awakening."

It was terrific to see so many cadets participate, and in the moments before the prayer, I commented that I'd never seen the cadets look so good in uniform, or seen boots as shiny as that morning.  The faculty member standing next to me told me not to look at his shoes...but assured me that his would be as shiny as the cadets' boots very soon.  This is "The Year of the Uniform," and while we have a wrinkle or two to work out, the uniform appearance has improved considerably...and my sense is that it has become a source of renewed pride for the Corps of Cadets.

Last week brought a visit by the Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation.  They've been very generous in the past, and we are fortunate to be among the non-profit organizations supported by this foundation.  We hosted Ms. Barbara Roole and Ms. Maria Wrabel, who were left impressed by our mission of educating, developing, and inspiring the next generation of young men who will lead with character...and we look forward to continuing our relationship. 

I spent the rest of that afternoon and evening in Richmond, fulfilling my role on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE).  VCPE essentially "accredits the accreditors" and advocates for private education.

I spent Friday morning in Northern Virginia visiting LTC Tom Williams, a distinguished member of the Class of 1942.  I've enjoyed learning more about his sacrifice and service during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam...and have enjoyed the similarities between his Army career and my father's.  Tom never tires of telling stories of his Fork Union Military Academy experience.  He remembers many of his interactions with fellow cadets, faculty, staff, and administrators...and knows they shaped who he has become.

Tom asked me to spend a bit more time in my blogs speaking to the "best aspects of the military" here at FUMA.  It is much different than when we hosted JROTC, but chain of command, military drill, inspections, and traditions continue.  I'll do my best to highlight aspects of this program over the next few months.

I am already at 1000 words...had much more to say, but will save it for later.  I'll close with an "alumnus update" received earlier today.  A 1958 graduate wanted to make sure we knew more about his former roommate, LTC Winfield "Willie" S. Williams Jr., USA, Retired who passed away last February.  Willie lived a full and meaningful life, impacting many along the way, so he asked us to pay a tribute to him, which we will.

He went on to write about their experiences at Fork Union by saying:

"We were proud of ourselves, our squad, our platoon, our company, and our school.  We were not perfect by any means, but rarely did we get sighted for improper attitude or behavior...and thankfully we never had to walk off any excess demerits.  We wanted to be the best at whatever challenge we faced.  Our approach to school academics was much the same, diligently studying assignments in our rooms during quiet time [CQ] each night and then doing our best in classes the following day.  We were not alone in this regard.  We believed all cadets embraced this kind of mindset of striving for excellence.

Looking back at our lives in Fork Union Military Academy, I'm sure Willie would readily agree those times were powerful, kick-start, precedent setting ones that paid big dividends in many different ways in our futures.  I believe Willie's high standards of personal conduct and achievements for himself at FUMA surely enhanced his impressive future.  My wish is that all those he came to know then and thereafter are as proud as I am to carry on in his spirit all the qualities of life he exemplified."

God Bless all FUMA graduates, and those here whose daily quality interactions help shape their lives.


Lessons from David and Goliath

It seems like yesterday that my family was arriving for the weekend...and here it is "blog night" again.  What a pleasant relief it's been from summer to have a week of cool sunny days and crisp nights.  Great running weather, and the perfect opportunity to run a few extra miles in new (bright green) running shoes.

Much of my time was spent writing college recommendations for cadets, meeting with a few cadets who were interested in discussing college options, and meetings around campus and in my office with a few returning cadets who are having particularly good starts to this school year.  I tell each young man they are surrounded by people whose only interest is their success.  It is our reason to go to work each day, and why many of us dedicated the second half of our professional careers (and many who are dedicating the first and second half) to help them achieve their goals.

The chapel service started with a song dedicated by LTC Williamson, our Commandant of Cadets, to those who lost their lives in the tragedy at the Navy Yard on Monday.  He spoke of the events, and we all sang "America the Beautiful."  The chapel message was given by COL Todd Giszack, our Academic Dean.  COL Giszack is an outstanding storyteller, and he shared lessons from David and Goliath...and made some comparisons to the journey of new cadets at Fork Union Military Academy.

While there are no enemy giants to battle here, and we don't allow cadets to hurl rocks, life for all of us, cadets included, goes better when we approach each day with the right attitude.  How we handle situations says much about who we are.  When you face each day, do you think you can be victorious?  Or are you defeated before you even get started?

The Dean and I are aligned regarding our interest in "moving the appreciation index" for cadets.  We want students to appreciate the opportunity they have to attend this great school...even though the Fork Union experience is challenging.  If faculty, staff, administrators, supporters, and cadets all see themselves as vital parts of the educational process, we will all be more successful.  The days of "us" and "them" simply don't work in this transformational environment.

I spent considerable time finishing personal notes to all those who are in our top giving levels.  The highest level is for those who gave $10,000 or more (in the past fiscal year), and the next level is for those who gave between $1,000 and $9,999.  Thankfully there are many letters, each accompanied by a "fresh off the presses" copy of our Strategic Plan, Fork Union 2020.  While each letter has a slightly different hand-written message, we are fortunate that so many recognize that their gifts are an investment in the future.

There are too few places in America today where a young man can go to learn what he needs to know to succeed in today's world.  Very few schools have the courage to give students what they need.  There are many who are willing to give them what they is certainly far easier.

Fork Union Military Academy provides a place built on old-fashioned Christian values like respect, integrity, faith, character, and discipline, and we still require all cadets to be physically fit, and challenge them in the classroom.

The generosity of these Second Century and President's Club supporters allow us to continue educating, developing, and inspiring young men in a college preparatory, Christian, military environment, where cadets learn character, leadership, confidence, independence, and responsibility.

Today was spent meeting with the Executive Committee of our Board of Trustees, and planning out the next three speakers in our Christian Leadership Series.  We will be inviting a diverse group of successful Christian leaders to address the cadets, learn more about FUMA, and in turn become advocates for our mission.

...well, I'm 80 emails behind...have an updated work list from the Board...need to say a prayer (or 400) for the Upper School Cadets who are taking mid-term exams tomorrow.  Pretty amazing that the half of the first (of five) terms is already over...if I'm doing my math right, 10% of the school year is behind us...with only 90% remaining.

It is all about approaching each day with the right attitude.  Do you remember that lesson from the story of David and Goliath?