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The idea of taking a new course in summer school or even a repeat course or two can be exciting if you find a summer school program that fits your schedule and has great teachers. At Randolph-Macon Academy, summer school is compacted into four weeks, allowing plenty of time before and after for family vacations, mission trips, or other camps and activities. Of course, in order to qualify for high school credit, students must receive instruction for a minimum amount of time, and fitting that into four weeks can be a challenge.
Randolph-Macon Academy’s Summer School is for students entering grades 9-12 (or recent graduates who might need one more credit to make that graduation official). Students spend 3.5 hours in class in the morning, and another 3.5 hours in class in the afternoon and they may take either one or two classes.
Students who are taking a core course for the first time spend the entire day in that one class, but while it is an intense program, every student loves finishing the summer school program with a full high school credit. The courses offered in this category are:
World History II
Students who are taking electives will choose two classes. Each one is worth a half credit:
Design Concepts for Engineering
Creative Writing Workshop
Students who need to repeat a class or two will have the following options:
World History II
Classes also meet on Saturday to fit in all the required hours within the four weeks. Saturday classes last only 90 minutes per class, so by noon the students are done with classes and lunch and are loading the buses for a trip to a major theme park.
There is also homework to be done, so after a half-hour of free time in the afternoons, students head to a study hall that lasts an hour and 15 minutes. From there students head to dinner and then enjoy an activity period. Some evenings this might be on-campus activities, such as basketball, softball, weightlifting, or a stroll around campus. The students might enjoy a swim in the on-campus indoor pool, or there might be a trip to the outdoor pool at the Northern Virginia 4-H Center right in Front Royal. The students might enjoy a movie or go bowling in downtown Front Royal.
In short, summer school at Randolph-Macon Academy is a lot of work, but there is plenty of fun as well. Curious about how it might fit your summer school needs? Come check us out online or call us at 800-272-1172!
This is the story of two boys, Adventurer and Homebody. Both will be entering the eighth grade this fall.
Homebody talked his parents into letting him stay at home all summer. He isn’t volunteering in the community, attending a camp, or even visiting relatives.
Adventurer asked his parents if he could attend Randolph-Macon Academy Summer Camp in Front Royal, Virginia.
One morning during camp, Adventurer woke up at 6:45 a.m. He got dressed, cleaned his air-conditioned room that he shared with a roommate from China, and then went to breakfast where he sat with his new friends: one from Haymarket, Virginia; one from Newburgh, New York; one from Winchester, Virginia; and of course his roommate from China. They laughed and talked as they ate a hot breakfast. Then they all went off to class.
Homebody was still sleeping.
Adventurer and his four friends were in Science Explorer, and that day they worked on building catapults. They learned about the physics needed for the project, then they set about building them together. They didn’t finish the project, but at the end of the second class hour, they had made a lot of progress and were already guessing which group’s project would hurl tennis balls the farthest.
Around this time, 11:05 a.m., Homebody roused himself from his bed to go get some cold cereal in an empty kitchen. He put his ear buds in to listen to his music as he ate.
Adventurer bid his friends goodbye as they headed off in different directions. One went to study skills, one to reading and writing, one to math, and one to digital media. Adventurer went to music technology. After a couple of weeks of learning the basics on the piano, today they began a lesson on music composition.
Homebody logged into Facebook to see if anyone in his neighborhood was awake yet and ignored the list of chores his mother had left for him to do.
Adventurer met back up with his friends at lunch where they talked about how awesome their catapult was going to be. Then they all went to mentoring. Adventurer’s mentor asked how things were going and gave them some tips on how to get along with their roommates.
Homebody stepped outside, but decided it was too hot to do much out there. Instead, he pulled out the Xbox controller and began playing Gears of War: Judgment.
There were a few activities going on at summer camp, and Adventurer and his friends decided to play flag football. Adventurer’s friend from New York scored the winning touchdown on a pass from one of their day camper friends from Front Royal. Adventurer hadn’t gotten to play a sport during the school year because his middle school didn’t offer many sports and he had been cut from the football team when he tried out. He was realizing that he loved being part of a team, and right then he decided to work hard that summer and try out again for football.
Homebody beat Gears of War and went on Facebook to share the good news. His next door neighbor was online, so they chatted for a while. His friend was waiting for another friend to pick him up. After they were done chatting, Homebody dusted and vacuumed the downstairs like his mother had asked.
During free time at camp, Adventurer played Ultimate Frisbee for the first time and managed to score a point for his team. “I think I found my calling in life,” he joked with his roommate as they settled in for study hall later on. He didn’t mind study hall. He was hot from being outside and the air conditioning felt good. Besides, his homework was to read the background information on their next science project—a giant hot air balloon.
Homebody finished vacuuming just before his mother got home. He gave her a hug, then set the table while his mother made dinner. “How was your day?” she asked. He shrugged as he answered, “Okay.”
Adventurer and his friends got back together for dinner and talked about the flag football and Ultimate Frisbee games they had played and the academic field trip to Mount Vernon they were going to take the next day. After dinner, they all loaded onto busses and went to the bowling center in Front Royal. As soon as he got back to the dorm he called his parents and told them all about it, and they promised to take him bowling when camp ended. His dad also promised to help him get in shape so he could try out for football again.
Homebody and his parents ate dinner a bit quietly. He wanted to talk about Gears of War and beating the game, but they wouldn’t understand, so he just ate his food. After dinner he went outside with them to help weed a garden. The evening had cooled off some, so they played a few innings of Wiffle ball, then went inside and watched a movie. Homebody realized that it was the happiest he had felt all day.
Adventurer finished his shower and climbed into bed. He and his roommate talked for a bit, then the lights went out at 9:45. They gave a few additional whispers of excitement over the upcoming trip to Hershey Park the next weekend, but when the dorm supervisor checked in on them, they decided to go to sleep.
Homebody went back on his laptop and poked around Facebook, exploring a few games. Nothing was grabbing his interest tonight. He chatted with a few friends until his mother stuck her head in. “Good night,” she said with a warm smile. “Don’t stay up too late.” He smiled back at her. “Okay.” He turned off his lights not long afterwards. As he fell asleep, he tried to think of what he might do the next day. Staying home for summer had been fun at first, but now, a month into not doing much, he was ready to go somewhere or accomplish something. If only he could figure out what…
Each year I ask a few staff and faculty members for their recommendations of seniors to do what I call “Senior Spotlights.” These are video interviews that I do with seniors and place on our web site. They started years ago when I realized that we couldn’t possibly profile all of our great graduating seniors in our boarding school’s magazine. (Even with these spotlights I still don't get to them all!) The graduation issue always features the valedictorian and salutatorian, and we have several opportunities for students to give speeches at the end of the year, so I try not to include those students in these videos, although there is sometimes a bit of overlap.
This year, by luck of the draw, my first two interviews of the series were with two boys that couldn’t have been more different if I tried. (And I really didn’t try—they just both happened to be TAs (Teacher Assistants) during the same period; since I try not to pull students out of class, I chose to interview them first.)
The first one was Marcus Williams. Marcus is the second of three children in his family who have attended R-MA. He came here in seventh grade because he and his family saw Randolph-Macon as an opportunity to receive a “balanced” education—a day and boarding school that focused on academics, but encompassed much more. Until this year, Marcus was a day student, as he is from Front Royal; he began boarding this year because of his position in cadre, the cadet corps leadership. Here’s what he had to say:
In contrast, Fahad Alsuhaibani hails from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He has been here only two years, and also had bit of connection to R-MA in that a family friend had attended here and graduated in 2010. He somewhat sheepishly admitted during his interview that he wasn’t crazy about the idea of coming to a U.S. boarding school when his father initially brought it up. However, Fahad clearly made the best of his time at R-MA, and found to his surprise that this boarding school was a good match for him:
It is amazing to me that two students coming into the school from such different lifestyles and with such different attitudes can both find success. I guess that’s part of the fun of boarding school!
Finding the right summer programs for middle school students is critical. I don’t mean to sound overdramatic, but after working in a private school for the last 13 years, and having two children of my own, I have realized the importance of balancing fun and education over the summer.
For elementary school-age children, I tend to believe that a summer camp should lean more towards fun—it should keep the children active and away from the TV, computers, video games, etc. It should give them a chance to explore areas they are interested in and try new things. As they move into the higher grades (third, fourth, fifth), a bit of academics helps make the transition into the new school year easier, but to be honest, it was never on the priority list for my children until my daughter entered fourth grade. (If you want to know that story, check this blog.) That’s because at a young age, kids tend to be constantly learning just because the world is so new to them.
By middle school, however, students’ needs have often changed. This is the age where students who seemed to learn easily in elementary school may begin to struggle in classes—perhaps because the learning environment has changed so drastically, the classes are larger, or the material is harder. In addition, that natural curiosity they had as young children has to be fostered, or they’ll lose it. So having some academic component mixed into a middle school student’s summer programs is important. Yet at heart, they’re still children who want to have fun during the summer, and they need the opportunity to become more independent, make new friends, and try new activities.
As parents, it is important that we create a summer schedule that fosters all of this for our middle school “tweens.” There are many summer camps available, both residential (a.k.a. “overnight”) and day camps. Churches, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, private schools, colleges, 4-H centers, recreation centers, gyms/fitness centers, your local “parks and rec” department—chances are they will all offer summer programs that will fulfill one or more of these needs for your middle school student for 2013. Make a list of what you’d like your child to learn or experience this summer, and do some research with these local organizations. Another useful resource will be online summer camp directories—an online search for “summer camps” will bring up a slew of them. With a bit of research and work on your part, you can put together a fantastic summer program!
As for me, I think I’ll cheat this summer. Randolph-Macon Academy’s summer program for middle school students encompasses everything I think a middle school student needs—a blend of academics, fun, games, sports, community service and trips that will keep students engaged. It’s four weeks long, which works perfectly for my family’s schedule this year. So as I begin looking for summer programs in 2013, I’m going to start there!
by Shelby M. Sebring ’15
This winter, five R-MA cadets mastered the complex task of programming Lego NXT Mindstorms Robots. The Robotics Intramural began in November with “Domabots” -- a compact, rudimentary design designed by Damien Kee, an independent technology expert. The design is easy to build and easy to operate. Under the instruction of R-MA Aerospace Instructor MSgt Stephen Pederson P’13, ’15, USAF, Ret., the cadets learned how to use “building blocks” to write robot-specific files on NXT Programming, an icon-based program and were soon downloading new programming with lightning speed. Among a few of the simpler tasks, the Domabots could be equipped with various sensors enabling the machines to respond to touch, sounds, colors, and even to sense the distance from a wall.
Once the cadets had an understanding of the robots, they moved away from the elementary Domobot clones to the next assignment: the much more exciting Sumobots robot. The foundation of a Sumobot is the same NXT brick as in all other Lego robots, but Sumobots are built for competition at both the local and national level. Tournaments take place in which one Sumobot “wrestles” another and attempts to knock it out of the ring. This competition requires a sturdy design and a very complicated program; Sumobots need to know when to attack the opponent and when to turn around in addition to accounting for speed variations and the requirement to stay within the circle.
Along with the program, each cadet personally engineered his or her own Sumobot with the ultimate goal of winning the tournament. Many designs were considered to capture First Place making the group of five robots look quite the motley crew. Competitors “Fat Albert” and “Southern Fury” were designed with considerable weight for added momentum, “Barricade” sported a plow-like platform to easily relocate opponents, “Dombot” had the extra advantage of a wider wheel base, and the feared “Runaway” featured a violently spinning arm on the front.
After weeks of concentrated design and programming, the five Sumobots matched each other in the first R-MA Sumobot Tournament. Though the ‘bots were very equally matched and many of the intense scrimmages ended in ties, the cadets all knew that there could only be one winner. After three days of furious competition, Barricade finally emerged as the champion of the Sumobot Tournament.
The victory was short-lived, though, as another mission awaited the eager Robotics Intramural cadets. The Sumobots were quickly disassembled as the cadets readied themselves for their final project—seven NXT robots were to be built and programmed to act as a flight and perform the dreaded “Thirty Count.”
The Thirty Count Drill Sequence (30-Ct) is the standard Air Force drill card for USAF Junior ROTC. It consists of thirty commands in a specific sequence which must be performed with absolute precision. To have simple Lego robots act like a trained drill team is an incredible undertaking, but the cadets in the intramural met the challenge with determination and spirit. They had worked together to learn about Domabots and had competed against each other with Sumobots, but now they would have to accept separate responsibilities if they were to accomplish this demanding feat. One student tackled the structure design of the “Drillbots,” which must all be uniform in appearance and performance, while another cadet took on the position of Bot Commander. The remaining three students wrote the long and intricate program and performed hours of troubleshooting. Since all of the Drillbots must operate in perfect unison, each one must be individually-tuned, a grueling task which requires hundreds of minute adjustments.
Currently, the members of the robotics intramural are putting the finishing touches on their “Robo-Count” procedure. The expert flight of seven Drillbots will perform the routine at R-MA’s 2013 Spring Family Weekend, and they do hope all R-MA friends and family attending the weekend festivities will drop by to watch. Though their movements may appear to be simply “robotic,” the Drillbots (and their human counterparts) look forward to the spectators’ attention and expect to put on a great show!
This article originally appeared in the Winter-Spring edition of The Sabre, the Magazine of Randolph-Macon Academy. The full issue can be viewed online.
by Michael T. Turner, '86
It was the fall of 1984 and I was in my junior year at R-MA when my JROTC class took a field trip out to the Front Royal/Warren Co. Airport. After hearing that the airport offered flying lessons, I couldn't get the idea out of my head. I was 16 and just started driving months earlier and the thought of flying was very exciting. So, I went where most 16-year-olds go when they want something - their dad. In this case though, my dad was the President of R-MA, Col. Trevor D. Turner. He was intrigued and asked if there was interest among the other cadets. I said, "How could there not be?" Well, with the start of the spring semester in January 1985, R-MA had a new after-school elective - flying. I'm sure he approached the Board of Trustees with recruitment in mind and over 28 years later, how right he was.
The first couple of years the instruction was done by airport flight instructors H. "Brownie" Brown and Kevin Fifer. The first students were me, '86; Tareq Salahi '87; and Mickey English '85. I soloed and earned my private pilot's certificate and decided flying was what I wanted to do as a career. In the interest of having the highest safety standard during the fall of 85, my dad decided the academy needed its own aircraft: a new one to keep perfectly maintained. David Fridenstein, '86, (who also had his Private Pilot's Certificate) and I were flown to Ohio by David's dad (in his airplane) to pick up the academy's new Cessna 152. David and I even timed our arrival to fly over the campus during the cadet formation to show everyone the academy’s new plane before landing at the Front Royal airport - much to Col. Ivan Mieth's surprise!
As I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach campus) from 1986-90, several other improvements were made to the flight program at R-MA, including hiring an in-staff flight instructor, John Sheehy, a former Eastern Airlines pilot. After I graduated from Embry-Riddle with a Bachelor's Degree in Aviation in 1990, I replaced Mr. Sheehy as he headed back to the airlines. During my time as a Flight Instructor and later the Director of Flight Training from 90-93, the academy's flight program tripled in size. This growth included hiring additional in-staff flight instructors including Jay Cullen and John Angeny; purchasing additional aircraft including a multi-engine aircraft; and building an academy aircraft hanger at the airport. Following an Embry-Riddle style curriculum, R-MA's Flight Program had become one of the nation's premier aviation training schools for secondary schools. I am thrilled that the program has been so successful over all these years and has influenced so many to pursue aviation careers.
For me, I began my airline career in the summer of 1993 as a pilot for Atlantic Coast Airlines, a United Express carrier and in January 2000, I started at United Airlines. I have flown everything from turbo-props to international wide-body jets and have had the chance to visit, explore and have great experiences all over the U.S. and in many other countries. During the decade following 9/11, the airline industry endured many difficulties and I was furloughed (an involuntary leave). By using my aviation background, this setback became an opportunity and allowed me to experience another occupation including three years in public service as a Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I have since returned to United Airlines and I am currently a pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 flying to Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and South America. I thank R-MA for giving me the opportunity to learn how to fly and I know many of my students from the early 90's love it as much as I do and feel the same way.
The flight program at R-MA now enrolls 30-35 students each year and encompasses a sumemr flight camp in addition to the flight lessons taught during the regular school year. There are two instructors on the R-MA staff: Laura Abraham, the flight director, and Ryan Koch. Lessons are still given at Front Royal-Warren County Airport, but now the students fly in one of two 2001 Cessna 172 aircraft.
Michael Turner, a 1986 alumnus of Randolph-Macon Academy, was inspired to write this look back at history by a recent article about pilots. The article was published in the most recent issue of Randoph-Macon Academy's magazine, The Sabre. You can read the article online, or view the entire magazine online.
I have been excited about R-MA’s Academic Summer Camp for middle school students since I arrived here at R-MA. With a few hours of class in the morning and a bunch of fun activities in the afternoon, I always thought that it seemed like the perfect summer camp. Talking with the “campers” only solidified this idea. I found that students who liked school had a ton of fun, and even those who did not like school discovered that they enjoyed learning during this summer camp, where the emphasis was on learning, not grades.
When my son was that age, he of course had the option of whether to attend R-MA’s Academic Summer Camp, but there were several other things that conflicted with the schedule and we could never seem to make it work. Since he was a straight-A student (well, almost—he had a B every now and then), I didn’t worry about the summer slump that was in the news at the time. I heard about it, and I believed it existed for some students, but my son didn’t seem to be one of them.
However, my daughter was a different story, as I learned this past fall. As an elementary school student, she participates in Accelerated Math, which was completely separate from the math section of her regular class day. In it, she could complete worksheets and quizzes and progress as fast and as far as she could. It resulted in her teacher giving her individual mini-lessons before the bell rang to signal the official start of the school day, because she was going through the lessons so quickly. By the time she finished third grade, she was halfway through fourth grade math in the Accelerated Math program.
Then summer vacation came. Long story short, my daughter didn’t do much math over the summer.
When my daughter arrived back at school in the fall, she spent the first two or three weeks extremely frustrated, because she had forgotten all of the math she had learned in Accelerated Math. Suddenly, instead of a child who had loved math for two years, I had a child who was almost in tears over her homework and had no patience with it. Sometimes it seemed like those weeks would never end…
Now, heading into the end of the school year, she’s back on track and even helping other students with their math during class. However, she hasn’t forgotten how she felt in the fall. She might only be in fourth grade, but she has already decided she wants to attend R-MA’s Middle School Academic Summer Camp and she knows what she wants to take when she gets there: math. She said she doesn’t ever want to be struggling at the start of the year like that again.
Obviously there was a difference between my son and my daughter and what they “lost” over the summer. That’s another thing I like about R-MA’s Academic Summer Camp, though: it’s not just skills classes like math. This year, Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, and Study Skills are all being offered, but so are History in Action, Science Explorer, Reading and Writing, Digital Media, and Music Technology. Interwoven throughout some of the courses will be this year’s theme of American Presidents—but if your child is a science lover rather than a history lover, have no fear. There’s no requirement to take the history course, and in science, exploring Thomas Jefferson’s love of all things scientific, Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation era, and the science of assassination attempts promises to keep even the most anti-history student entertained.
by Ben Gillis '14, R-MA Flight Program Student
The Hudson River VFR (visual flight rules) corridor is a fun aviation experience. My dad, my brother-in-law and I flew through it this past summer. We took a day and flew up to New Jersey, stopped for lunch, and then continued on through the corridor. My brother-in-law is a pilot in the West Virginia Air National Guard and also a private pilot, so he flew us up there. He is part of a flying club at Chesterfield County Airport. The club has several planes one of which is a DA-40 which we flew in. It is one of the sleekest and most enjoyable aircraft I have ever flown in. It’s a G1000, glass cockpit, four seat, 180 horsepower airplane that performs in all conditions.
The morning we left, we went early to the airport, so we could get into the air sooner. We tookoff from Chesterfield County Airport, climbed to 7,000 feet, and picked up our instrument flight plan. From here on out it was switch frequencies and watch for traffic. The DA-40 autopilot held its own in a very hefty headwind the whole way to new jersey. We saw some cool sights the whole way up the coast: Philadelphia, Dover Air Force Base, and a few marshes and trees. We saw these from a distance of course because if we got too close to either without permission, we would be safley escourted to the ground by at least one F-15 fighter jet. This of course did not happen, and the fact we had an IFR flight plan helped immensly. The route up was pretty direct with few deviations from the flight plan. It took us about two hours to fly to Monimouth Executive Airport, about 30 miles south of New York City.
We landed there and and had the plane refueled while we went out to lunch. One of the airport staff recommended a little bar and grill named Mulligans, so we took him up on it and ate at Mulligans Bar and Grill. I had a french dip sandwich for the first time there, and it was amazing. I would recommend the sandwich and the resturant. After lunch we went back to the airport and got ready to takeoff. From Monimouth Airport it was only about a 15 minute flight to the mouth of the Hudson River.
The Hudson River VFR corridor is a vary narrow and small space, so its reccomended that whoever flies through it should radio their position at certain checkpoints. Mike, my brother-in-law, let me do all the radio calls once we got into the corridor. The calls were at cetain landmarks as follows: “Hudon River VRF, Dimondstar 77AlphaMike, Statue of Liberty, northbound, 1200 feet.” There are about ten or so landmarks at which a pilot should make radio calls, most of which are bridges and big landmarks easy to spot. One of the landmarks is pictured below, The Intrepid. We also were not alone in this area. We watched about eight tourist and news helicopters fly all around us. The helicopters were supposed to stay below 900 feet, but few actually did. It was exciting at first, but after a while I got used to the situation and started to enjoy the view. It was scary to think how close we were to some of those sky scrapers, and about the terrorists that crashed on 9/11/01. That was a
fleeting thought because there was always another radio call to make. We saw just about all of New York City--without the stop-and-go traffic. Now that’s a deal if I’ve ever heard of one! We saw the Statue of Liberty, the new Freedom Tower being built, the Intrepid, the Empire State building, the George Washington Bridge, the Tappen Zee Bridge, the Verrazano Bridge, and Sing Sing prison. Once we got to the north end of it we intercepted our IFR flight plan back home.
We had a pretty serious tailwind on the flight home, so it was less than two hours. At one point we had a groundspeed of 200 knots. On the way home our flight plan was changed a few times but we sorted it out and continued on. This was a day I will remember for the rest of my life.
by Rebekah Secrist
Most people can remember that high school foe who became friend by the time graduation came around. I have a similar story. I “met” Randolph-Macon Academy in eighth grade when someone from my church became an R-MA cadet. Having lived in the area all my life, I’d already developed my thoughts on R- MA. I never went to R-MA as a student. I went to a high school in a neighboring town close to Front Royal, and R-MA was actually one of my school’s rivals that we competed against in sports. If someone asked me what I thought about R-MA in those days, I would’ve said, “It’s a jail! It’s sad; they make those kids march EVERYWHERE. It would be miserable to go there. They make you do pushups, and the ‘bad’ kids go there . . . you know, the ones who did something.” That was my honest impression.
Fast-forward eight years later. I’m a junior studying Mass Communications at Shenandoah University, and still live the neighboring town. Michael Williams, the director of student life at R-MA, graciously helped me obtain an internship position as the Public Relations Assistant to Celeste Brooks, R-MA’s beautiful and talented PR director. Talk about a learning experience!
On my first day, R-MA junior Madeline Chafin showed me around campus. I was shocked at how ambitious she was and at such a young age. She said she’d begged for her parents to send her to R-MA. I thought for sure that all of the cadets were there at least originally against their will, but Maddie proved this wrong.
During my first lunch at R-MA, I noticed the cadets were running into the cafeteria while laughing with each other. I honestly thought, “They know how to smile? Smiling is allowed? Are they actually happy here?”
As I began to fulfill my duties as an intern, it was my job to interview countless faculty members and students to write community press releases and articles for the school magazine, The Sabre. What I learned was that R-MA is bursting with incredible teachers and faculty that are completely passionate about R-MA’s gifted and intellectual cadets, and these cadets aren’t just brilliant and talented: they are happy! They smile! And they each have such a refreshing and pleasant personality that expresses thoughtfully developed core values.
I learned that the students from R-MA excel, and that they get accepted into incredible colleges like UVA, Dartmouth, MIT, and of course the Academies. I learned that R-MA cadets get scholarships and recognition. From this, I learned that R-MA students are assigned life training responsibilities that provide valuable experiences that can be put on a resume. I learned that R-MA students enjoy an incredible education with kind, qualified, and completely committed teachers who upon auditing some classes, had me so captivated that I wished to be in high school again – but this time as a junior cadet at R-MA.
I learned that R-MA has a very specific “culture.” I learned that the students are proud of that military school culture. I learned that the experience of the family R-MA offers won’t be found anywhere else. I learned about the Alumni Association, and I learned about the goals they strive for as they drive the mission of R-MA forward. I learned that I believed in R-MA’s mission too, and I learned that Middle School Admission Counselor Pam Cole was correct when she said that R-MA students are "capable, confident, and college ready."
My time spent at R-MA in the few short months I’ve been here has allowed me to completely amend my original perception. I may have thought R-MA was “that awful place parents threaten their kids with,” but now I see R-MA as a kindred spirit. I have grown to love the powerful symbol of The Sabre; I love the culture of R-MA; I love constantly being amazing at the accomplishments of the students; and I love learning about the passion and zeal that is honored in R-MA’s alma mater.
Above all the other things I’ve learned since being a part of R-MA, I learned to recognize the need in people that desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and I’ve learned how R-MA develops that need and cultivates that longing within its students to turn that need into a purpose. I love this perspective on R-MA so much better than my former one. For the past 8 years I’ve grown up next to R-MA; I’m honored to finally after all this time to be a part of Randolph-Macon Academy.
Rebekah Secrist is working as an intern in the Randolph-Macon Academy Office of Public Relations. She is currently a junior at Shenandoah University majoring in mass communications.
The following article will appear in the spring edition of "The Sabre" magazine.
Although the R-MA Flight Program as it exists today began in 1985, R-MA cadets and alumni have a solid history of taking to the skies either for military service, commercial service, or leisure. Recently in the Dome Dispatch, the Alumni E-newsletter, we sent out a note “Calling All Pilots”, and we received responses from alumni aviators spanning 60 years! Here are their stories:
Major Everett E. Worrell, Jr. ’40 flew B-17 aircraft in the 532nd Bomb Squadron, 381st Bomb Group, as First Pilot and Aircraft Commander in 35 combat missions during World War II. He was awarded six air medals while serving with the 8th Air Force flying over Germany in 1944. His plane, “Patches” had more than 300 holes in it when they got back to England, but not a single man on the crew suffered a scratch. He flew his last combat mission on January 2, 1945. After WWII, Worrell left the military, but was recalled during the Korean War, specializing in electronics and communications until he retired in 1970.
Lt Col Richard L. Davis ’49 graduated from USAF Pilot training on January 18, 1955. In the course of his 20-year career, he flew the C-124, T-33, B-26, C-47, C-121 (Constellation), C-130, and the C-141. He ended his Air Force career as the Commander of the 57th Military Airlift Squadron at Altus AFB, OK.
Colonel Kenneth W. Pastore ’58 notes that he was the first R-MA graduate to attend the United States Air Force Academy, receiving an appointment as a member of the USAFA Class of 1962. He chose not to continue after the first summer at the Academy and accepted a previously offered spot at Duke University, where he was a member of the USAF ROTC program. Pastore completed the Flight Instruction Program (FIP) in a Piper Colt, received his private pilot license and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the USAF in June of 1962. His first operational assignment was the then-new F-4 Phantom at MacDill AFB, FL and in the following 14 years, he flew five different models of the F-4 in Okinawa, Thailand, Korea, Alaska and as an instructor at MacDill AFB. After a three-year tour at HQ Tactical Air Command as Chief, Weapons and Tactics, he transitioned into the F-15 Eagle through the Fighter Weapons School course at Nellis AFB, NV. Pastore flew the Eagle from ’78-’83 at Eglin AFB, FL and then at Kadena AB in Okinawa. He retired from the Air Force in October 1992 with 34 years of service and over 4000 hours of “pure fighter time.” He said they often remarked that “we would have ‘paid them’ to let us fly those fighters…while it wasn’t all fun, it was certainly memorable.”
Sewell “Toby” Frey ’62 has over 15,000 hours of flight time. He entered the USAF in 1968 where he flew the T-41, T-37, T-38, AT-33, F-86H, and A-37B for a total of 14 years including time with the Maryland Air National Guard. He was hired by Eastern Airlines in 1972 and spent 20 years flying L-188s, DC-9s, and B-727s. He also flew for ValueJet, AirTran, and JetBlue, all in DC-9s. Frey became an instructor for more than 10 years with Flight Safety International where he instructed in the F-70, F-100, Bombardier Global Express, Gulfstream G-V, and various Flying Safety Courses.
Stephen Shankle ’76 has had flying in his blood for as long as he can remember. He managed to get his private pilot license in the summer of his junior year while attending R-MA. His father and flight instructor Joel Shankle ‘51 was an American Airlines pilot at the time. Stephen joined AFROTC while in college; after graduation he spent eight years active duty, including time in flight school and completing two tours in Europe. He flew the OV-10 out of Sembach, Germany and the A-10 from RAF Bentwaters. Now, after 25 years with Delta Airlines, he’s flying the left seat as a B-737-800 captain.
Kevin Vohs ’91 learned to fly at R-MA. His instructor was Mr. Sheehy, the father of John Sheehy ’92. Vohs grew up in a family of pilots. His great grandfather was a WWI pilot, and his grandfather and brothers were military or civilian pilots. He’s not sure at what age he became interested in flying, but there is a picture of him, at five years old, demonstrating a near-perfect aileron roll of his toy airplane. Vohs has been flying since he was 16 years old and has flown a variety of planes from the two-seat single-engine planes to the one he’s flying now, a turbojet with a capacity of 159 seats. After becoming a licensed pilot, he went on to become a flight instructor in Union City, TN. Later, he became a corporate pilot flying twin turboprops and business jets. In 2000 he was hired by Northwest Airlink and after seven years with them, joined JetBlue Airways where he currently flies the Airbus A320, based at JFK in New York, NY. Vohs says he enjoys where his job takes him, allowing him to visit the Caribbean and California. One of his fondest memories is when Colonel Ivan Mieth, former R-MA commandant, pinned the solo wings on Vohs’ R-MA uniform in front of a chapel full of cadets. “Deep down I think we all wanted to make Col. Mieth proud, and for that moment, I felt like he really might have been,” Vohs said. “That was the highlight of my personal and professional career.” Vohs once told Mieth that he wanted to be a pilot like he was. Mieth said, “Well, just don’t do what I did and fly a plane that goes low and slow where everyone can shoot at you.” Vohs said, “I took your advice, Colonel! You are missed, sir.” Vohs and his R-MA roommate, Corey Slone ‘92 sometimes meet during layovers and catch up on the good ol‘ days.
Corwin “Corey” S. Slone ’92 wanted to be a pilot since he took his first trip on a Braniff 727 when he was five years old. Slone came to R-MA in 1989 as a sophomore interested in the flight program and a career in the military. He began ground school and flying with Michael Turner ’86; he soloed on a windy day in Winchester on May 11, 1991. After R-MA, Slone went to Texas A&M University where he joined the flying club and completed his private pilot license. Due to cutbacks in Operation Desert Storm, pilot slots were rare so he chose a civilian aviation career, and as a back-up he majored in Construction Science. After graduating in 1996 Slone worked in the oil fields for five years while building up flight time and gathering licenses. He quit his “real” job and became a flight instructor and flew skydivers to build more flight time. From there he became a King Air 200 Captain, flying freight, charter, and air ambulance missions. In 2004 he got a job with Flight Options flying a BE-400 Beechjet as a fractional pilot. In February of 2006, Slone was hired at Continental Airlines as a First Officer on the Boeing 737. With the merger, he is now flying for United Airlines and has flown the B-737, B-757, B-767, and currently the B-777.
Slone said, “Flying is a difficult but rewarding career. There is a lot of ‘paying your dues’ to get to the majors. It takes dedication and perseverance to continue to the skies. Over the span of 22 years of flying, I have seen most of the U.S. on my layovers, including Hawaii and Alaska. I have also flown as far as Japan, India, Argentina, Europe, Africa, and several places in between. It is hard to believe this all started in N96096 a C-152 at KFRR in January 1991! Thank you to my parents, Michael Turner, and R-MA!”
James “Rico” Rawlins ’92 graduated with honors from Delaware State University in 1996 with a degree in aircraft systems management. Afterwards he became a flight instructor at DSU until 1999. When he had built up enough flight time, he went to work for Continental Express, now Express Jet Airlines. Rawlins was promoted to Captain in 2001 flying the ATR 42 (turbo prop) and EMB 145 (50 seat jet). In 2006 he went to work for Southwest Airlines flying a Boeing 737. He has been flying out of BWI for the last six years. He said he loves it and hopes he can inspire someone to become a pilot one day.
Christopher Patseavouras ’95 is currently a senior at Liberty University Online, finishing his degree in aeronautics with a minor in Christian counseling. Patseavouras learned to fly at R-MA with Flight Instructor John Angeny who presently flies for Delta Airlines. He remembers his first flight at R-MA and how airsick it made him—he laid down in his bunk that night and the room was still spinning. At the time he thought he didn’t have what it took. After R-MA, Patseavouras went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical school in Prescott, AZ for one year. He gave up flying, but not for long—he learned to fly a second time at a grass strip airport in Greensboro, NC called Air Harbor. It was there he realized he wanted to teach flying because flying instilled him with self-confidence. Patseavouras received his Private Pilot certificate in October 1997.
Currently, he is a corporate pilot for Flight Group Corporation in Raleigh, NC. He has 4,500 hours, an ATP, and Type rating in the Citation Jet. He serves as a Part 135 Instructor on the King Air, FAAST Team Member for the FAA, and is most passionately an instructor (CFII/MEI) with over 1500 hours of dual given. Patseavouras said his favorite plane to fly is whatever one he happens to be in that day!
Kelvin Ampofo ’96 started R-MA in the seventh grade and had obtained almost every type of award or medal there was that he could wear on his uniform, except the pilot wings. He decided to start the flight program initially to get the wings to wear on his uniform; however, during flight training he fell in love with flying. Ampofo continued on to Embry-Riddle, earning his B.S. in aeronautical science. He started flying right out of college. He flew trips to Canada and even flew the President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) on business trips. Some of the planes he has flown have been the Piper Navajo, King Air, Cessna Citation, Socato Tampico Tb-9, a Piper Mooney, Cadet, Archer Tri Pacer and Seminole, Grumman Cougar, Beechcraft Bonanza, Baron, Waco, and even the Good Year Blimp! Ampofo said that he has also flown helicopters but enjoy the airplanes more. Although he’s not flying now, he remembers an emergency night landing he had to make and said that he used his training from R-MA to land safely.
Fred Gould ’96 knew he wanted to fly when he was four years old. His father worked as an airline mechanic and the pilots would always let him visit the cockpit and sit in their seats. Gould’s parents decided to send him to R-MA, not because of his desire to become a pilot, but because of his academic performance and behavior in public school. The fact that R-MA was an Air Force prep school with a flight program and United Methodist Church affiliation made it their number one choice. Gould started at R-MA the summer prior to his sophomore year. He remembers making a 180-degree change with his grades and attitude, which resulted in his parents allowing him to start flight training his junior year. A three-week break from flying due to a poor progress report from a teacher was enough to motivate him to keep his grades up. He soloed in December 1994 and about a month before graduating earned his private pilot license—a few weeks before obtaining his driver’s license. Gould then went to the Community College of Beaver County near his home outside of Pittsburgh, PA, graduating in December 1997 with an associate’s degree in professional piloting and all of the necessary licenses and ratings. After a year of working three flying jobs, he was hired by CommutAir, a regional airline for US Airways Express flying the Beechcraft 1900D turboprop. Although he was laid off a few days after 9/11, Gould soon obtained a job for Flight Options, a fractional aircraft ownership company based in Cleveland, OH flying the Beechjet 400A. The very first Captain he flew with at Flight Options was Brian Gross—one of his flight instructors at R-MA during his senior year! Gross introduced Gould to the finer points of flying a jet aircraft, a far cry from the Cessna 152’s they last flew together. After three years at Flight Options, Gould jumped at the opportunity to work for a charter company in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He was hired at Voyager Jet Center in October 2004 and spent the next eight years flying as Captain on Beechjet 400A, Hawker 400XP, Hawker 700/800/850XP/900XP, Citation Sovereign and Citation X. He left Voyager Jet Center in October 2012 to take a position as a Citation X Captain at Corporate Air, also in Pittsburgh.
Gould said, “My 18 years as a pilot has allowed me to experience things beyond my wildest dreams.” Some advice he would give to aspiring pilots would be the words that Col Ivan Mieth once told him: “Make safety your number one priority. That will keep you alive longer than anything else.” The next bit of advice would be: “Never give up, and dedicate yourself to your studies. A lot of pilots give up after their first solo or after getting their private pilot license because they discover that there is an immense amount of material one must learn to advance to the next level. You must have the desire to learn the material and have an interest in what you are doing if you want to succeed.”
Jessica (Fekete) Tracey ’01 started her aviation career as a junior at R-MA under the instruction of John Papp. She went on to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is currently a Captain at Republic Airlines flying the Q-400.
Daniel Desjardins ’03 started flying in Canada and soloed at the ripe age of 14 with a dream of flying for Air Canada. In August of 2000, he came to R-MA and signed up for the flight program with 20 hours or so already under his belt. Because the rules are different between the countries, he soloed again when he was 16 on the cold blistery day of February 13, 2001. After R-MA, Desjardins went on to Indiana State University and completed his pilot licenses including an instructor certificate. By 2005, he was a King Air instructor and chief pilot, flying business travel with university executives. In April 2007, Desjardins got the phone call and interview with Air Canada, only one month before he graduated with a BS in Aerospace Technology. Once he moved back to Canada, he flew the Brazilian Embraer Jet from 2007-2009. Desjardins upgraded to the Airbus A319/320/321 fleet at Air Canada, flying longer and more interesting routes. Seasonally he flies from St John’s Newfoundland to London, England in a small A319 aircraft. In September of this past year, he moved up to B-767, allowing him to fly more routes to places such as London, Paris, Rome, Switzerland, and Israel. Desjardins has currently logged over 5500 flight hours, of which 4000 are in the jet. He continues to fly for Air Canada and experience interesting cultures and cities. Desjardins still has 30+ years of flying left in him, and with that, hopes to be promoted to Captain one of these days.
R. Brandon Wilkins ’03 graduated from the Citadel in 2007. After receiving his commission as a Marine, he attended The Basic School (TBS) and Flight School in Pensacola, FL and Kingsville, TX. He earned his wings on October 31, 2010 in Texas and then reported to NAS Oceana, VA from November 2010 to August 2011, to learn how to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. Wilkins then reported to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC in the Fall of 2011 and deployed on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) for her final combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, flying close air support missions in Afghanistan. Serving with the “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 (VMFA-251), Wilkins has logged over 500 hours in the Hornet, with over 800 hours of total military time. During his deployment he also earned the designation of Landing Signal Officer (LSO), responsible for the safe recovery and grading of each pilot’s landing aboard the carrier.
Jordan Rice ’05 began his flying career at R-MA under the instruction of Laura Abraham in 2004. He went on to solo shortly after his 16th birthday (he waited a few extra days for his roommate, Mark Holden ’06, to turn 16 so they could solo at the same time). He went on to continue his education and training at Florida Tech, where he earned his BS and MS (pending graduation this Spring) in aviation-related disciplines. Rice taught students at the university for three years as an instructor (CFI/CFII/MEI) before going to work for American Eagle Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines. He’s flown large turboprops and ‘regional jets’ across the US, to Cuba, the Bahamas, and most islands in the Caribbean as a First Officer.
Chase Beatty ’09 always had a goal to fly in some capacity, either as a civilian or in the military. Now a Marine, Beatty doesn’t fly much anymore but he does tag on to some rides in the military aircraft rotor wing. He has flown Piper arrows, Cessna 172, and Cessna 152 as well as a Diamond. Beatty remembers flying to Oklahoma and says that it was very interesting because the whole state was flat and visibility was great. While he was there he got to fly in a storm. Beatty said, “Flight at R-MA was more about overcoming obstacles and that was what kept me coming back. I like a good challenge and flight always presented that for me. I still love flying to this day.”
Jacob Kaczmarek ’10 is currently an instrument-rated commercial multi/single engine pilot. He had his check ride for his CFI in January and is working on his instrument instructor rating with the goal of working as a Flight Instructor in 2013.
We know we have many more pilots out there. If you are interested in sharing your story, please e-mail Ann Brander, Director of Alumni Relations, at email@example.com. Stay tuned to the R-MA Dome Dispatch for future career spotlights!
By Grace Alexander
On Tuesday February 5th, Alpha Readers, sponsored by Mr. Robert Davies and the National English Honor Society, met for our fourth meeting this year. We had an off-campus meeting, which parent Ms. Margaret Melberg graciously hosted. She provided delicious food including homemade bread. Parent Ms. Nascimento donated cupcakes from her bakery.
We sat down in the comfort of the living room and discussed the book I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It is the journal of a young girl who tells of the obstacles of growing up. However this girl isn’t the average teenager. Her family lives in a huge old castle in England in the mid-twentieth century. Her family has no income save from the boy who lives with them who works to gain her affection. The girl and her sister meet American men and begin to learn love. The journal details the outcome of their courtships, but it also details the family struggles.
The most striking scene, I think, is when the main character Cassandra and her brother Thomas lock their father in the tower. They do it for his own good to inspire his writing, for after one big hit book he encountered incessant writer’s block. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling says, “This book has one of the most charismatic narrators I’ve ever met.” Throughout the story the author tries to capture, or describe explicitly and creatively, her life; in the end she has successfully “captured” her life and the castle in which she lives it. The novel is the coming-of-age story of a young writer; it is rich in literary allusions. Teachers Mr. Eric Barr and Ms. Jennifer Mustain as well as many students attended—and thank you again to Ms. Melberg!
The decision to send a child to boarding school is a big one, and one that should involve the entire family. While it offers a unique educational experience and may be the best option for your child, some families struggle to afford boarding school, especially when they consider the impending costs of college. For many, however, the benefits of boarding school are well worth the costs and potential setbacks.
The Value of a Boarding School Education
When you send your child to boarding school, you can rest assured that he or she will get a great education, both academically and socially. Here’s why:
- Students at boarding schools receive more personalized attention. Classes at Randolph-Macon Academy, for example, have an average of just 14 students.
- Students can often choose from a variety of challenging topics. Course offerings typically include a wide range of subjects at advanced and AP levels.
- Faculty members commonly bring more knowledge and experience to the classroom since they often hold advanced degrees.
- School resources such as a library or athletic complex tend to be of the best quality, thanks to private funding.
- Students live independently at a young age. This allows them to mature and make their own decisions within a safe community.
The rigorous and well-rounded educational experience of boarding school prepares students for college and beyond. Top-tier universities recognize the unique education of boarding school students and do their best to recruit such students; R-MA’s 81 graduates in 2012 were offered more than $4 million in scholarships.
Alumni regularly go on to attend top colleges and universities, while fondly remembering their time at boarding school.
Financial Feasibility of Boarding School
If you and your child agree that boarding school is the right choice, don’t let finances get in the way of a good education. While school can be costly, funding options are available to help families make ends meet. Financial aid is available for boarding school just as it’s available for higher education. If you can’t afford a school’s price, look into scholarships, grants and loans.
Many boarding schools offer merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. These may be enough to cover the full cost of attendance, and you never need to repay them.
If you’ve exhausted scholarship and grant options but need more financial help, look into student loans. You can typically borrow private student loans through major banks, but your approval for a loan will depend on your credit score. If you’re thinking of taking out education loans, keep in mind that you will be responsible for paying these off over the course of several years, and be sure you’re prepared to commit to the repayment plan.
Boarding school can make a huge impact on your child’s life and future. It can improve his or her skills and education in ways traditional schools simply can’t. If you think boarding school will benefit your son or daughter, do what you can to give your child that experience.
Katherine Pilnick is a finance writer and blogger for Debt.org.
by George Beals
I was in from the moment I heard the words “All day event.” I’m used to public school, where we don’t have to come on national holidays (R-MA holds classes on many of the federal holidays such as Columbus Day and President's Day), and this Projet Aviation Career Expo seemed to be the perfect way to weasel out of a Friday’s worth of classes. I didn’t sign up just to miss school, if that’s what you’re thinking. I had other motivations, like the free lunch that would be provided. Seriously, a day away from school and a non-Sysco lunch that I don’t have to pay for? Who in their right mind would consider saying no?
The airport where the expo would be held was about an hour’s drive away, and when we pulled up, I wasn’t really that excited; I was just happy to be out of school for the day. The main things on my mind were the free lunch and the inevitable make-up work I would have to grapple with on the weekend. We all filed in respectfully to the crowded hangar where the expo was being held. The main floor was occupied by a couple of small airplanes and several hundred chairs facing the stage. Projector screens lined one of the walls. A ring of vendors' tables lined the other three walls, among them military recruiters, airline companies, flight schools who owned the planes that were on display, federal agencies, insurance companies, and even a catering business. By the time we walked in, the introduction speech had already started, so most everybody stood quietly behind the seats so as not to disturb the speaker. As it happened, being a few minutes late was one of the greatest things that happened that day.
As I was standing in the back of the crowd, I began to just look around at the other people who had opted to stand. I saw a few casually dressed adults, and some of the representatives came out from behind their vending tables. But one woman in an olive green flight suit caught my attention. I had to do a quick double take, to make sure my eyes weren’t pulling pranks on me, but it didn’t take long to confirm that I was looking at the one and only Lt Cmdr Meagan Flannigan. What’s that? You don’t know who that is? Allow me to jog your memory.
Lt Commander Meagan Flannigan graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1998 and went on to fly the F-14D Tomcat, the Navy’s premier fighter jet. Oh, you’ve heard of that plane before? That’s not surprising. Anyone who saw the 1986 iconic action movie “Top Gun” will be intimately familiar with the jet. So why is Meagan Flannigan so famous? She wasn’t in the movie, kicking tires and lighting fires alongside Maverick, Goose, and Iceman. There was still a movie about her though, just not a Hollywood action movie with a tacky romance subplot and cheap special effects. Rather, Meagan Flannigan starred in a documentary, as in an unscripted, not staged, real-life-captured-on-film movie about becoming a fighter pilot in the Navy. To top it all off, when she set her heart on being a fighter pilot, women weren’t allowed to participate in any form of fighting, much less one as coveted as aerial combat. In my humble personal opinion, Tom Cruise is five-foot-two poser compared Meagan Flannigan. Have a look at this and then tell me you don’t recognize her:
As far as I’m concerned, that beats the pants off of anything I’ve seen Val Kilmer pull off. Not only did she actually fly real combat missions in the venerable Tomcat, she was the first, and so far the only woman to do so.
So here I am, essentially skipping school for a free lunch, and then I spot her not ten feet away from me. I’ll admit I was a bit star-struck. Some people get star-struck when they see Peyton Manning or Angelina Jolie, but not me. Call me a nerd, or geek, or whatever else you care to come up with, but Meagan Flannigan is the real deal. She delivered a speech, detailing her life’s journey from being a little girl who dreamt of flying the Tomcat after seeing Top Gun (to the film’s credit, it did inspire Meagan to be a pilot) to actually going through the training and being selected to do it for real. The majority of my companions hung out near the back again because lunch was being served after she was done, but free food had been suddenly knocked down a few places on my priority list. After she gave her presentation, I was determined to go up and meet her. There was a bit of a wait, all the while I couldn’t help but notice the food line wasn’t getting any shorter, but I had a new mission. When I did finally get to talk to her, I found myself to be a bit less eloquent than normal. After all, I was standing right next to someone I had idolized after only hearing about her, but she was polite and patient with me. She answered my questions, listened to what I had to say, and posed for a quick photo, and that was that. I’m sure it wasn’t the only encounter of that kind she’d had, and she likely wouldn’t be able to remember my name among all the others she’d heard that day, but those few minutes meant the world to a kid who thought she was essentially awesomeness personified.
After meeting Meagan Flannigan, a couple of things changed. Now, I no longer have any doubt in my mind that I will one day be a fighter pilot. I used to be afraid of saying something so absolute regarding my career goals because of the odds, and I didn’t want to be bitterly disappointed if all my hopes and dreams fell flat. But if a little thing like probability didn’t stop Meagan Flannigan, then it sure won’t stop me.