Fork Union Military Academy announced this week that it would hold in person graduation exercises for seniors in the Class of 2020 on July 18, 2020. Founded in 1898, this will be the Academy's 121st commencement and is being planned to take place in the school's stadium where past graduations have been celebrated. School officials say that the July 18 date was chosen because it is expected to meet the schedule announced by Governor Northam for the lifting of restrictions on larger events. Additional protocols will be shared with families as the graduation date approaches.
"We will continue to monitor the changing circumstances," said Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.), the President of Fork Union Military Academy, "and we are developing a comprehensive plan for our graduation and our phased return to school. We are determined to have a graduation ceremony for our seniors that appropriately honors them and the completion of their high school journey. They have done very well under extraordinary circumstances and I couldn't be prouder of each one of them."
Out of an abundance of caution and its commitment to hold a traditional, in person graduation, the Academy has asked seniors and their families to also hold the weekend of July 30-August 1 in the event circumstances change.
The senior class hails from more than a dozen states and several countries. Fork Union is a college preparatory, Christian school; each member of the senior class has been accepted to at least one college. The members of the Class of 2020 have been awarded college scholarship grants of more than $2.5 million.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the closing of school campuses across Virginia, by order of Governor Ralph Northam. Many schools scrambled to put in place online learning alternatives. Fork Union Military Academy follows a unique curriculum plan called the One Subject Plan, in which students take just one class during each of the five grading terms of the school year. This simplified the school's conversion to distance learning for the final grading term. Term 5 is subject to standard grading requirements, so the Valedictorian and Salutatorian will be announced after Term 5 is complete.
"Because each teacher is only teaching one class with approximately five to fifteen students," explains COL Mike Goad, Fork Union's Academic Dean, "we were able to set up distance learning in a way that was really tailored to the needs of each class. It's worked very smoothly for us. We miss having our students on campus, though, and we are looking forward to having a graduation ceremony this summer."
"Graduation from high school is a true rite of passage for our seniors," Goad continued. "Even though we had to send our students home and finish the school year with distance learning, we have been looking forward to the day when we could be together and celebrate the accomplishments of our senior class in person."