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Fork Union Military Academy Receives $10.1 Million Cash Donation

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With it's largest enrollment in years (approximately 500 students), Fork Union Military Academy is beginning construction on a new dormitory for upper school students. To be named Jacobson Hall in honor of Jerry and Laura Jacobson of Sugarcreek, Ohio, the  three-story building- almost 100,000 square feet- will have 250 two-man rooms and be almost double the size of current facilities.

FUMA began fundraising appeals for the project back in September; by December, slow donations put the project into question. Then, the Jacobsons- parents of two FUMA students- made the largest ever cash contribution to the school, $10.1 million.

As Jerry Jacobson told the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

'It was just a heartfelt thing I wanted to do to help the future generations of young men in the country.  It was hopefully a building block to help keep Fork Union up and going for many years in the future."

Stephanie Portillo, a Spanish teacher at Randolph-Macon Academy recently received the Air Force Association's Medal of Merit and the Veterans of Foreign Wars' National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. She has taken her personal dedication to her students.

Drawing on her own school service experiences, she now works to instill the understandings and responsibilities of volunteering in her students. Portillo coordinates R-MA's extensive student service programs- Interact-Community Service.

Portillo's grounds her message and lessons in the belief that contribution doesn't require money. Time, commitment, and hard work provide the strongest foundation for valuable service. She explained to the Northern Virginia Daily, "We try to teach the kids that, above all, this is not about cutting a check....and, we try to teach the kids that while donations are needed, if we roll up our sleeves and help out, it doesn't have to involve money."

Armed with the understanding that their efforts make a difference, these high school students carry the knowledge that they can contribute through their lives.

"You are planting a seed that is multiplying," Portillo said.
To follow up on Brian's earlier post about Culver Academies impressive string of Presidential Inaugural Parade invites (dating back to the Wilson inauguration), I found the Youtube video below that features Culver's Black Horse Troop & Equestriennes as they proudly rode past President & Mrs. Obama's viewing platform.

Our congratulations again to the Culver riders. To witness and participate in such a historic represents once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.



Update: Checkout this post (Video of Culver Academies' Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes Riding in the Inaugural Parade) to watch the Culver students ride past President Obama's viewing stand during the Inaugural Parade.

The Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes from AQ Member School, Culver Academies received an invitation and will participate in the Obama-Biden Presidential Inaugural Parade January 20th. This will be the 15th time that the team has participated in the inaugural parade.

The Boys' Black Horse unit counts 14 inaugural parades with the Girls' unit totaling five previous appearances. Culver's participation in inaugural parades dates back to Woodrow Wilson's inaugurals.



Learn more about this honor by reading Culver's press release on the Troop inaugural participation.


Working to Overcome

Talk about perspective. Sports suffer from overuse as metaphor and insight into the model for life.  But, in this story, athletics is an end not the philosophy, thinking, or means and the latter three provide the crux of the story.  

Kevin Laue plays basketball at Fork Union Military Academy. FUMA plays great basketball- teams comprised of PG's and younger athletes many of whom are headed to NCAA Division I or very strong lower division programs. Mr. Laue's athletic talent is great enough to play at this level driven by the desire to earn a Division I basketball scholarship. He's 6'10" with size 17 feet- averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds this season.

The perspective, Mr. Laue plays with only a right hand.

His parents provided the experiences and the opportunities and Mr. Laue has grown into quite a young man. He now finds himself the subject of a documentary film and providing a model and inspiration for others.

He's received recruiting letters from Division III schools, but he's still fighting to convince Division I coaches that he can play the highest level of college basketball.

You can read more about this young man and his story by reading a recent New York Times article.
Culver AcademiesFrank and Jane Batten have made a two part gift to the Culver Academies that could total $70 million. $20 million of the gift goes toward the creation of the Batten Fellows program which will insure competitive faculty salaries and development opportunities. $50 million of the gift sets-up the Batten Leadership Challenge which will match endowment gifts up to $50 million. Successful completion of the full match will bring the Batten's Culver commitment to over $100 million.

Mr. Batten cites Culver's positive influence on his life as motivation for the gift:

"Culver was a very positive influence in my life at an impressionable age with its unique emphasis on individual responsibility, ethical decision-making, and student leadership. Jane and I are pleased to give back to present and future students what was given to me."
John Buxton, Culver's head told an interviewer:

"This is the gift every head of schools in the country dreams about. The Batten Fellows Program may be the most generous gift for faculty salaries in the history of secondary school philanthropy. The gift benefits those who make the real difference in students' lives: the faculty. Culver may be the first school in the country to have such an endowment. We are extremely grateful to Frank and Jane Batten for making such a program possible for Culver. This gift will allow us to recognize excellence in teaching and to promote its faculty in a more appropriate way."
Mr. Batten is Culver Alumnus, an emeritus member of Culver's board and the retired CEO of Landmark Communications which recently sold The Weather Channel to a consortium of NBC, Blackstone Management Partners and Bain Capital Partners.

You can read Culver's news release on Marketwire.

Photo credit: Devonaire Eye
Florida Air Academy faculty member, Lania Rosengren, recently attended the award ceremony as a nominee for Science Teacher of the Year- a national contest sponsored by Discovery Education and the 3M Foundation. She was one of five finalists for the award.
 
Rosengren challenges and entertains her students by presenting lessons through rap in the classroom. As Ms. Rosengren told Floridatoday.com:
 
"Every year I perform at least one rap for my students about the subject we are learning. I find a song and make up the lyrics. I dress up, and a lot of students do not even recognize me. When they figure it out, they go crazy! When I perform, a lot of students want to rap along with me, dance and there's a lot of laughing and cheering. I encourage them to try and rap along with me as I pass out the lyrics. I try to make my lessons interesting enough for the students to want to learn and this is one way I found that really works."
Ms. Rosengren also receives great accolades from her colleagues at Florida Air. Antiny White, FAA's Principal, told Floridatoday.com:
 
"Lania is a wonderful example of how creative and innovative methods can really transform the learning process. She has high academic standards, and she makes science fun for the students. That's everything you want in a teacher. We're excited for her that she's receiving this kind of national recognition."
For committed day student athletes participating in summer conditioning programs, the greatest challenge is getting to the gym or to school. Once in the gym, your teammates, coaches, and trainers help with your program and push you to get better. After some gym time, non-contact drills follow easily. Most everyone who can be is present.

Summer conditioning presents challenges for boarding school teams considering how many players are spread all over the globe. This recent article talks about how  Riverside Military Academy students prepare for the fall season even though for many the training is done alone, away from campus.
We came across a school website that got us to stop and take a look the other day. The Fork Union Military Academy's site makes the most use out of more web tools than  any school site that I've seen in recent memory. Beyond their embrace of web 2.0 technologies, we also like the fact that kids/students are clearly part of their intended audience. I think- visually- the site clearly appeals to applicant age viewers.

On the site, they incorporate a number of features to connect and build their community. From podcasting about a variety of topics to utilizing the FUMA 411 Forum- they're the first school we've found that uses a message board- the site is well positioned to deliver the news of the day. Take the forum, it presents information both to current and applying students; provides discussion sections for family and friends; The Chaplain's Corner keeps the extended community involved with the schools spiritual work; and alumni have a dedicated section. We like their willingness to start and provide a public place on the site for all members of the FUMA family to meet and exchange ideas/news.

Some of the discussion dates show that it's still developing, but it allows the wide school community to stay connected and maintain a feel for campus happenings.

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