It was a warm, bright morning as forty-three seniors crossed the stage at Fork Union Military Academy to receive their high school diplomas at the conclusion of the school's 123rd academic session. These students had come from across the nation and around the globe to attend Fork Union Military Academy. Seniors from Rhode Island to California, and from countries as far away as Costa Rica, Jordan, and Vietnam, joined together to form the Class of 2021, a graduating class that will go down in history as having experienced one of the toughest years any cadets have ever experienced in the life of this historic boys' school. The Class of 2021 faced—and overcame—unprecedented challenges to reach this important milestone, attending in-person classes in the midst of a COVID-19 global pandemic that had kept most schools in the United States closed for the entire year.
"We are so proud of each of them for their wisdom, patience and faith through this trying year," said Colonel David L. Coggins, the school's president. "Through a global pandemic, each of these boys conquered this year with no hesitation and formed a brotherhood that will never be broken."
The Class of 2021 not only endured, they excelled, with fifteen of the forty-three seniors recognized as Honor Graduates. This represents approximately 35% of the senior class-the largest percentage of a senior class to meet the criteria as Honor Graduates in memory—earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better and maintaining exemplary conduct status. All Honor Graduates must have been in continuous attendance for three years or more.
The forty-three members of the Class of 2021 were awarded a total of more than $4.4 million in scholarships for college. One hundred percent of the senior class received acceptances to college.
The Commencement Address was delivered by Blake Sundel, an alumnus of Fork Union and Valedictorian of his graduating class in 2011. Sundel, a native of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he competed on the men's swimming and diving team. Sundel shared three valuable lessons he learned at Fork Union that have not changed: start with respect, live a life of character, and do what you were trained to do.
Cadet Gregory James Hyson was named the Valedictorian of the Class of 2021 and an Honor Graduate with a cumulative GPA of 4.696. Gregory is the son of Sharolyn Rosier Hyson of Upper Marlboro, Maryland and Gregory Alan Hyson of Boynton Beach, Florida. Gregory has been in attendance at the Academy since 9th grade. He will be attending Howard University on a full STEM scholarship in the fall.
In his Valedictory Address, Hyson said, "The only person standing between me and my success was me, and the only person that can overcome my failures was me."
"Keep a strong mind," Hyson told his classmates, "And remember that you set the standard for your own life. You are in competition with nobody but yourself. Beat yourself; make it the objective of every day to be a better person than you were the day before. It is You versus You."
Cadet Marcus Terrell Billingslea was named the Salutatorian of the Class of 2021 and an Honor Graduate with a cumulative GPA of 4.687. He is the son of Charemon and Rudy Brooks of Palmyra, Virginia, and Marcus Billingslea. He has been in attendance at the Academy since 6th grade. Marcus will be attending Morehouse College on a merit scholarship in the fall.
The remaining Honor Graduates of the Class of 2021 include:
|Carlton Stephen Ashby is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Ashby of Raleigh, North Carolina. Carlton has been in attendance at the Academy since 9th Grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.786. Carlton will be attending Liberty University in the fall.|
|Andy Thein Bui is the son of Helen Nguyen of Santa Ana, California. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 10th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.157. Andy will be attending the University of California at Berkeley in the fall.|
|Hector Jesus Del Angel Hernandez is the son of Hector Del Angel Espindola and Elizabeth Hernandez Fernandez of Faber, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.130. Hector will be attending George Mason University in the fall.|
|Lamar Jordan is the son of Sherry-Ann Hector and Ian Jordan of New York, New York. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th Grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.835. Lamar will be attending the University of Buffalo in the fall.|
|Khang Gia Le is the son of Tuan Le of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 10th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.225. Khang will be attending the University of Minnesota in the fall.|
|Drew Samuel Leydig is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Leydig of Fork Union, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since 6th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.643. Drew will be attending Washington and Lee University in the fall.|
|Jackson Foster Manglicmot is the son of Mr. And Mrs. Ferzen Manglicmot of Palmyra, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since 6th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.161. Jackson will be attending the University of Tennessee in the fall.|
|Miles Lloyd Byrd Mayfield is the Son of Dr. Robin Mayfield and Chauncey Mayfield of Brookline, Mass. Miles has been in attendance at the Academy since the 7th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.710. Miles will be attending Morehouse College in the fall.|
|Adam R. Nazar is the son of Reem Nouri and Raed Yahia of Manassas, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.537. Adam will be attending the United States Coast Guard Academy in the fall.|
|Aaron Michael Reese is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Reese of Palmyra, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 8th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.776. Aaron will return to FUMA in the fall as a member of our postgraduate football team.|
|Michael Paul Valverde Sandusky is the son of Stephen Sandusky of Buenos Aries, Costa Rica and the nephew of Michael and Robin Sandusky of Charles City, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.686. Michael will be attending Christopher Newport University in the fall.|
|Jace Andrew Thompson is the son of Greg Thompson and Carmen Recupero of Christiansburg, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 11th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.776. Jace will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall where he will be a member of the Corps of Cadets.|
|Phu Thanh Vo is the son of Sau Ha and Akim Le of Thu Dao Mot City, Vietnam. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 10th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.971. Phu will be attending the University of Houston in the fall.|
Fork Union Military Academy is a private, college-preparatory, Christian boarding school for boys located in Fluvanna County in Virginia. Founded in 1898 by Dr. William E. Hatcher, the Academy offers an extensive college preparatory program for boys in grades 7 through 12, as well as for recent high school graduates seeking a one-year postgraduate program to better prepare for the college of their choice. Students are taught the core values of respect, integrity, faith, discipline, and character, as well as the life skills that lead to success. The Academy is nationally recognized for its unique One Subject Plan and for enrolling students from a wide range of socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds from throughout the United States and numerous other countries. Fork Union Military Academy is fully accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools and is recognized as an accredited school through the Virginia Council for Private Education and the Virginia Department of Education.