Front & Center News from Fork Union Military Academy–November 23, 2020

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Stories in this issue:

  • Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Founders Day
  • Parents Day Parade
  • 108 Days...
  • Distance Education Classes Begin November 30th
  • Activities!
  • Do you want to be a part of our Cadet Corps?
Hatcher Hall Under a Full Moon

Happy Thanksgiving!

Colonel David L. Coggins

Greetings, FUMA Family and Friends! Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Cadets departed campus for an extended break on November 20th and will return on January 10th.

We have had zero cases of COVID-19 on campus. Just let that sink in for a moment...

This pandemic could have been a disaster for our school and community, but our cadets were tough. They followed the protocols and they did not complain. They went 120 days straight on campus with no break, not even a Day Pass to get off campus with their parents. I am so thankful for them and for everyone who supported them. I give thanks to God for His Divine protection of our Academy. It is good to give thanks.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” —1 Chronicles 16:34

Thank you for being part of our team. Happy Thanksgiving!


Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.), President, Fork Union Military Academy

An epic water balloon fight during a recent fundraising activity

Founders Day

On October 15, Fork Union Military Academy celebrated Founders Day, marking the opening of the very first school session in Fork Union. The Fork Union Academy, described in those first days as a "Classical Academy," opened its doors on October 15, 1898 and admitted nineteen boys and girls to its first class session.

The Academy was created in 1898 by the Reverend William E. Hatcher, a prominent Baptist preacher from Richmond who had married a Fork Union girl in 1865 and who maintained a summer home in Fork Union named Careby Hall.

Dr. William E. Hatcher

Families in the Fork Union community were very excited about the idea of starting a school in the area when Dr. William Hatcher first suggested the idea at a church picnic in September, 1898. There were no public schools in the area at that time, and families wishing to give their children more than a basic elementary education had few options. Even though it was very near to the opening of the fall school season and it seemed unlikely that a brand new school could be formed in time, Dr. Hatcher called a community meeting to discuss the idea. There were so many details to work out such as where to hold classes, where to find a teacher, and the most important question -- how to make sure there would be money available to hire a teacher and pay the school's expenses if the school didn't make enough from tuition in that first year.

Dr. Hatcher suggested that if $500.00 could be guaranteed to pay for a seven-month school session, he would find a suitable teacher using his connections at Richmond College. A written agreement was drawn up on September 30, 1898, called the Guarantor's Agreement, and ten individuals or families agreed to be responsible for $50.00 each. These persons became known as the Academy's "Original Guarantors," and because of their commitment, the Academy was born.

Original Guarantors of Fork Union Academy

The sum of $50.00 might not sound like a lot these days, but in 1898, the country was just coming out of a severe economic depression that had started in 1893. The unemployment rate was still about 12% in 1898 and the average income in the United States at that time was barely $400 per year for those who had jobs. Many families in the Fork Union community were farmers who likely earned significantly less than that. It's possible that $50 represented up to a quarter of their annual income. The Original Guarantors were taking a significant financial risk to help the school get started and we honor their memory today.

The ten who signed the Guarantor's Agreement were: Dr. W. E. Hatcher, Capt C. G. Snead, Mr. W. P. Snead, Mr. W. F. Snead, Mrs. Zadie V. Kie, Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Snead, Dr. Geo. H. Snead, Mr. B. H. Snead, Mr. W. H. Sadler, and Mr. W. W. Hughes.

The first class of students at Fork Union included girls, and the school was coed for the first few years of its existence.

The first teacher was a graduate of Richmond College, now known as the University of Richmond, and his name was Mr. Julian B. Martin. Professor Martin was paid $47.50 per month for his services during the seven months of that very first school session.

Company A in 1908

By 1902, the name of the school was changed to Fork Union Military Academy and the school became a boys only school with a military-style structure over the course of the following decade.

Parents Day Parade

We held our annual Parents Day Parade in October, even though our pandemic protocols meant that parents could not be in attendance and only view the parade via our YouTube channel video. The cadets looked sharp this year, even though face masks were required and the cadets' only audience were members of our staff and faculty and a few cameras.

Parade Traditions

Fork Union Military Academy has been holding parades of the Corps of Cadets for more than a century, and not much has changed in the way these parades are carried out over the years. This is because many of the parade traditions we follow today have been around even longer than the Academy has been in existence.

Most of the parade traditions for military units in the United States date all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Baron von Steuben, the Prussian-born military leader, was brought to Valley Forge to train General George Washington's soldiers, and it was Baron von Steuben who wrote the Army's famous "blue book" that served as the drill manual for many decades.

From the first order to "Sound Attention," to the order for the band to "Sound Off," to the final "Pass in Review," our parades reflect traditions passed on in military units for more than 200 years, some of which may even date back to the Middle Ages.

Pass in Review

The "Pass in Review" is a military tradition that some say began as early as 340 BC during the time of Alexander the Great, and offers an opportunity for a commanding officer to review or inspect his troops. It is also an opportunity for the troops to show off their strength, discipline, and military bearing.

During the Pass in Review, all units march past a reviewing stand on which stands a commanding officer or other reviewing officer, and any other honored dignitaries chosen to "take the review." As each unit passes, they are ordered "Eyes Right," at which time the cadets turn their heads 45-degrees toward the reviewing stand (except for the far right column of cadets who continue to face forward along the line of march), and the officers present sabers in salute.

This special "Eyes Right" salute may originate from the middle ages, when the serfs and slaves were not allowed to look at their feudal lords, but were required to avert their eyes and bow their heads or kneel as the lords of the manor passed. In contrast, the soldiers in the service of the feudal lords were given the privilege of looking their leader right in the eye and raising their hats or helmets as a mark of respect.

Passing in Review remains one of the highest honors the Corps of Cadets can offer to one chosen to "take the review" and is the way the Corps of Cadets "salutes" or shows respect and appreciation to those persons.

By carrying on these traditions, the cadets of Fork Union Military Academy are helping preserve a bit of American military history, honoring the importance of discipline and teamwork in all our activities, and fostering an esprit de corps at our Academy -- that special spirit and morale that sets our cadets above and apart from any students at any other school.

Watch Our Parents Day Parade on Video

Our Battle of the Brains team competed on a recent television broadcast

108 Days...

...But Who Was Counting?

Well, to be honest, we're pretty sure every single person on campus—cadets, faculty, staff—was each anxiously counting down the days between August 3rd when our cadet leaders arrived on campus for leadership training until November 20th when Thanksgiving Leave began.

For a total of 108 days, Fork Union Military Academy had students living on campus, attending in-person classes, engaging in athletic competitions, and following very strict protocols including social distancing, wearing face masks, and cleaning...all to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus among our student body and employees. Every cadet and employee submitted to symptom and temperature checks every morning.

For those 108 days, cadets never had a moment of free time off campus with family or friends.

The restrictions and requirements placed on our cadets were unprecedented. At no time in recent memory have our cadets been so physically cut off from the outside world, as we worked hard to create a bubble environment around our campus.

It almost defies belief, but these efforts worked and our campus remained safe from COVID-19 in 2020.

President's Unit Award for Excellence

In recognition of this extraordinary performance by our cadets and staff, Colonel David Coggins, the President of Fork Union Military Academy, has announced that he is awarding the President's Unit Award for Excellence to the Corps or Cadets, Faculty, and Staff as of November 20, 2020.

The President's Unit Award Ribbon

This is only the third time in Fork Union Military Academy's history that this award has been presented.

Congratulations to the Corps of Cadets and to all members of the staff and faculty of Fork Union Military Academy.

Cadet Jackson Fields (right) and Cadet Maxwell Boyd won First Place and Second Place awards in the Patriot's Pen essay contest.

Distance Education Classes Begin November 30th

After a well-deserved Thanksgiving Leave, our cadets will again return to their Term 3 class, but they will do so virtually, via distance education methods.

  1. Our distance education approach will be primarily asynchronous in nature, because we have students in different time zones around the world.
  2. Each teacher will have flexibility in how best to structure their classes, based on the content they have to deliver and the students they have in their class.
  3. Some classes may schedule synchronous activities when all students will be online in class virtually with their teacher at a specified time, but our policies require that any synchronous sessions be equitable to all students, meaning that they must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance and any such meetings should be recorded and sent to students who are unable to attend at the specified time.
  4. Students or parents may request one-on-one virtual meetings with the classroom teacher. Our policy requires that such one-on-one meetings online receive prior parent approval and must be recorded.
  5. Classroom teachers will hold "office hours" each Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET. In addition, teachers are available by appointment during the hours of 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM each weekday so that they may accommodate students in time zones that are at least 3 hours outside of the Eastern time zone.
  6. Students will be required to complete an attendance check-in form by 8:30 AM (in their time zone) each school day. Students will receive a daily devotional video and a morning pledge video by email. Teachers will record attendance each day.

Cadets will continue their Term 3 class by distance education from November 30th through December 18th. All cadets will then be on Christmas Leave beginning December 19th until their return to campus on January 10th.


Because our cadets were stuck on campus since August, we tried to incorporate a variety of activities into their free time schedules. The social center with its pool and ping pong tables, video game rooms, movie theater, and snack bar was very popular with cadets, as was the computer lab for gaming and ZOOM visits with family. Our faculty and staff did their best to provide a variety of other activities for groups of cadets who were interested.

Here are some photos from the past few weeks' activities.

Do you want to be a part of our Cadet Corps?

Are you a young man in the 7th to 12th grade? Do you want to be a man known for integrity, respect for yourself and others, faith, character, and discipline?

Do you want to learn more about how a top military school for boys can help you succeed? Are you interested in attending one of the USA's top college prep boarding schools? Does a good Christian school environment sound like what you are looking for? Do you think a great private school would suit you better than public school?

We encourage you to fill out an application for enrollment and join our cadets here at Fork Union Military Academy.

Created By
Daniel Thompson


Photos by: Kate Pendergrass, Kelly Shuman, MAJ James Benson, Cadet Abdulrahman AlBunnia