Sixty-five seniors from at least a dozen states and a half-dozen countries crossed the stage at Fork Union Military Academy this morning to receive their high school diplomas at the conclusion of the school's 119th academic session. Three of those high school seniors also received their Associate's Degree in Applied Science, as part of a partnership the historic college prep boarding school has established in recent years with local colleges. Receiving their associate's degree from the Richard Bland College of William & Mary today were Andrew Philip Estes of Palmyra, Virginia, Jonathan Ilori of Colonial Heights, Virginia, and Gavin Curtis Powell of Troy, Virginia. High-performing students may enroll in a large number of dual enrollment courses to earn college credit while they complete their high school degree, helping them get a huge jump ahead in their postsecondary education.
Sixteen of the 65 seniors were recognized as Honor Graduates, earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better and maintaining exemplary conduct status. All 16 Honor Graduates had been in continuous attendance for three years or more, with their average length of continuous attendance being six years.
Three cadets this year earned appointments to our nation's service academies, perhaps the most exclusive colleges in the world. The Valedictorian of the Class of 2018, Joshua Henriques of West Nyack, New York will attend the United States Air Force Academy this fall. Colton Ramsey of Sykesville, Maryland will attend the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Patrick Dorsey, a postgraduate from Raleigh, North Carolina was recruited to play basketball for the United States Naval Academy.
The commencement address was given by alumnus Jon Copper, a member of the PG Class of 2005 at Fork Union Military Academy, who became a leading tackler on the University of Virginia football team. He is now a successful entrepreneur living in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife Megan and their two children. Copper urged the graduating seniors to remember that we are all like the turtle found sitting atop a post: somebody helped us to get where we are. He closed by sharing the advice he learned from a teammate who was preparing for an NFL career who told Copper that amid all the accomplishments and goals to seek it was critical to keep in mind that "the most important thing is the person lacing up their cleats beside you."