Improvements Planned in Middle School Program at Fork Union Military Academy

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Fork Union Military Academy's president, RADM J. Scott Burhoe, has announced the appointment of a Transition Team to prepare plans for an enhanced middle school program beginning in the 2015-2016 Academic Year. The key elements of the plan are expected to include enhancing the academic offerings for seventh and eighth grade students, the elimination of the sixth grade, and housing of the students in a wing of the Academy's new state-of-the-art barracks facility, Jacobson Hall.

Middle School Battalion on Parade at Parents Weekend

Middle School Battalion on Parade at Parents Weekend

"Our Middle School is a real gem," said RADM Burhoe in announcing the Transition Team's formation. "It is a remarkable program which has transformed the lives of boys for generations."

Fork Union Military Academy's president, RADM J. Scott Burhoe, has announced the appointment of a Transition Team to prepare plans for an enhanced middle school program beginning in the 2015-2016 Academic Year. The team, headed by current Middle School Headmaster, COL Rob Feathers, has been tasked with preparing a comprehensive plan to present to the school's Board of Trustees in February, with implementation to begin shortly thereafter. The key elements of the plan are expected to include enhancing the academic offerings for seventh and eighth grade students, the elimination of the sixth grade, and housing of the students in a wing of the Academy's new state-of-the-art barracks facility, Jacobson Hall.

"Our Middle School is a real gem," said RADM Burhoe in announcing the Transition Team's formation. "It is a remarkable program which has transformed the lives of boys for generations. This transition will make our school more attractive to 7th and 8th grade families, allowing us to fill our 9th grade sooner, and have a solid progression through graduation."

The Middle School was created by the school's fifth president, Dr. John J. Wicker, in 1930, thirty-two years after the founding of the college preparatory academy. In the years since its creation, the Middle School has seen many changes as it evolved to meet the needs of students in a changing society. At one point, Fork Union Military Academy had students ranging in age from children in kindergarten to adult soldiers returning home from World War Two to complete their high school education. In more recent years, the Middle School has served students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in a separate academic building from those used by Upper School students, and in a barracks facility that was originally built in 1940.

Fork Union Military Academy will be better able to serve the young men in seventh and eighth grade by making these changes, and will be able to move those students into one of the wings of Jacobson Hall, the school's new barracks. Previously, sixth graders were considered by the school to be too young to house in the same building as twelfth graders. Seventh and eighth graders, however, can be comfortably housed in one of the building's separate wings, offering these students the much improved security, safety, and supervision amenities found in the more modern facility.

The elimination of the sixth grade will have very little direct effect on overall enrollment. Many boarding schools throughout the nation have seen a decline in demand for their lower grades in recent years. In fact, Fork Union Military Academy was the only military school remaining in Virginia to offer sixth grade. Many of Fork Union's sixth graders in the past few years have been non-boarding day students and children of Academy staff. In contrast, the improved residential facilities and enhanced academic program for the seventh and eighth grade students is expected to have a significant positive impact on enrollment in those grades.

The excellent drama/visual arts/music programs provided at the Middle School level will be retained and these programs will expand even more widely into the Upper School. The Transition Team is also expected to make proposals regarding curriculum changes for the Middle School, to include block scheduling alternatives and preparation for eighth graders to transition into the Academy's highly-successful One Subject Plan followed in the Upper School grades.

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Dan Thompson
@forkunion
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