In May, we completed a great academic year and held graduation for our seniors, 100% of whom were accepted to colleges and universities, and most were accepted to one of their top three choices. Our college placement team provides expert advising to our cadets in college and career planning, as well as military and ministry options.
Earlier this summer, we held a successful series of camps including hosting a lacrosse camp in partnership with the University of Virginia, a father and son camp, a strength and speed football camp, and our 37th annual basketball camp.
As I write this, our summer school is near completion, offering classes for repeat credit to improve the student's grade, as well as advanced courses for students seeking to build a highly competitive college admission portfolio. For example, the teacher of our algebra II class has a PhD in nuclear physics. We have one other instructor with a PhD on board this summer teaching history to help provide students with a competitive advantage in college placement.
Our summer school students were treated to a special field trip to Washington, DC, that included visiting the memorials on the National Mall and exploring the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. The trip's theme was "e pluribus unum"-meaning, "out of many one." All students wrote essays about what they learned, and the winning essay author earned a pizza party for his class.
The Annual President's Coin Toss has become a popular event for summer school students in the pool on campus, as the special FUMA President's challenge coins were tossed into the pool for students to jump in and find. Twenty students each came up with a coin and were declared the winners. We will do this again in the new school year on October 15th, Founders Day, and we will begin looking forward to our upcoming 125th Anniversary year the following year when there will be an 1898 silver dollar and other special coins mixed in with the President's challenge coins.
Retan Hall, also known as Band Hall and Flag Hall depending on when you attended Fork Union, has been remodeled and it looks great! We will be able to have concerts in the fireplace area, our state flags are on display, and we even found our bagpipes! We're working on "Echo Taps" and a special version of Amazing Grace with the bagpipes for this coming year.
Our new press box at the football stadium is almost done. We're painting the planetarium roof and cleaning out the classroom space and auditorium.
We are deep cleaning all the spaces and equipment on campus preparing for the return of our Corps of Cadets to start their first day of class on September 6th. Many thanks to our maintenance team who has done a great job on campus. We appreciate you. They'll have everything ready to go when our cadets return.
Our SAGE food service has been a huge favorite amongst cadets, faculty, staff, and your President. Thank you to SAGE, our local workers, and our cadets and parents for the collaboration and feedback on meals, dietary concerns, and special requests. Chef Michael and Sous Chef Juanny have been magnifique in this past year!
Retan Rifles and the marching band is expected to grow even more in the coming year, and we look forward to sending them to compete throughout the region and even at the national level.
We plan to restart the wrestling program after the one season gap year we took this past year. We have added a few new teachers and TAC Officers for the new year.
Let me tell you about just one of our terrific teachers. Top Gun? Yes! One of our faculty is a retired US Navy Naval Flight Officer who graduated from Naval Fighter Weapons School-Top Gun School. He served in the Navy and as a US Joint and NATO staff officer around the world. He was the Professor of Naval Science and Commanding Officer of the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Virginia. This is the kind of professional we have teaching, advising, coaching, and mentoring your son at FUMA.
To our returning cadets I say: enjoy the summer, read classic books, think deep thoughts, work out safely and with purpose, help at home, do what you can with your opportunities to serve in your church, community and the world. We have prayed for each one of you. We care about you and remind you that God's plan for you is for good, not disaster. Therefore, don't worry, be happy!
Congratulations to our recent graduates and to last year's PG players! Best wishes as you start college. We'll be looking for many of you playing in the NCAA. We will even be watching one of our postgraduate athletes from last year, Aaron Kleimann, who will be playing professionally for the Berlin Thunder in the European League of Football. Wunderbar!!!
We are proud of all our cadets, and we love to watch your achievements continue in your lives.
Are you searching for the meaning of life? The reason for life? The Bible has answers. We give each cadet a Bible, we read it, we teach it, we believe it. No wonder our enrollment is increasing.
We look forward to seeing you soon! It is guaranteed to be a special year. Our school's birthday on October 15th signals the start of preparations to celebrate our 125th year in 2023-2024! We'll have special events this Oct 14-15-16 on campus for cadets, parents, alumni, donors. I think that Dr. William Hatcher, our founder, would be proud of us and his school.
Remember that God loves you and so do we. See you soon.
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
Fork Union Military Academy