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Public high schools did not exist in this area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, in 1900, only 8% of all Americans aged 14-17 attended high school, and only 11% of those few students expected to attend college.

Seeing a need for a local college preparatory school, Dr. William E. Hatcher, a prominent Baptist minister, founded Fork Union Academy in October of 1898 with nineteen boys and girls in the first class. The military structure was added in 1902 to provide organization, discipline, and physical development for the young men of this rapidly growing school. In 1913, the school's name was changed to Fork Union Military Academy and the school became an all-male institution. This same year, the Academy began receiving support from the Baptist General Association of Virginia, an affiliation that continues today.

At one time, there were hundreds of private military schools across the nation. Today, fewer than forty remain. Fork Union lives on as one of the largest and most successful military schools in the country because we have not changed our philosophy and guiding principles that have built academic success for generations of young men. We have held steadfast to our primary mission.

The Academy is accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. On the most recent visit by the VAIS accreditation team (made up of school heads and top faculty and staff from many of Virginia's best private schools) the team commended the high quality of the Academy's faculty and staff.