Front & Center News from Fork Union Military Academy – September 22, 2023

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Stories in this issue:

  • Fork Union Announces the CSM Glenn Sidwell Leadership Scholarship
  • Cadets have Fun at the St. Margaret's Back to School Mixer
  • Happy Birthday to the September Babies
  • Fork Union Hosts Annual College Fair
  • Get to Know Our Teachers Segment
  • Save the Date: Parent's Day/Weekend Leave
  • The Conductor's Corner
  • Teddy Roosevelt Reenactment Highlights a Fork Union Friday Morning
  • This Week's Bravo Zulu Awards
  • Upcoming Admissions Events
  • Do you want to be a part of our Cadet Corps?

CSM Glenn Sidwell Honored with Endowed Leadership Scholarship at Fork Union Military Academy

Command Sergeant Major Glenn Sidwell has dedicated a remarkable six decades of his life to serving his country and mentoring young men. His unwavering commitment began in November of 1959 when he enlisted in the United States Army, and it continues today as he prepares to embark on his 35th year in the Commandant’s Department at Fork Union Military Academy.

In recognition of CSM Sidwell's lifetime of selfless dedication, former cadet Peter W. Congdon and his father, John R. Congdon, Jr., have established the Command Sergeant Major Glenn Sidwell Endowed Leadership Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship will provide crucial tuition support for returning members of the Corps of Cadets who exemplify a profound commitment to the art and science of servant-style leadership, a core value taught at the Academy.

A native of West Virginia, CSM Sidwell's illustrious military career included extended tours of duty in Vietnam, where he served in historic units like Golf Company, 75th Rangers, and the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He also served with distinction on stateside assignments, including two tours with the Third United States Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), where he earned the esteemed title of Distinguished Member of the Regiment in June 1998.

CSM Sidwell's valor and dedication to duty have been recognized with numerous commendations for valor, as well as two Purple Hearts. He proudly wears the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Special Forces Tab, and Ranger Tab, showcasing his expertise and commitment. Additionally, he holds multiple master’s degrees, underscoring his commitment to lifelong learning.

To launch this remarkable scholarship, the Congdon family has not only made a substantial initial contribution but has also pledged to match dollar-for-dollar all donations received for the fund before July 1, 2024, up to $100,000. Furthermore, should the Academy raise $100,000 during this period, the Congdon family will generously add an additional $50,000 to the fund.

We cordially invite you to join us in this meaningful endeavor that not only pays tribute to a distinguished American and a beloved institution at Fork Union Military Academy but also provides invaluable financial support to exceptional young men who may otherwise be unable to return to the Academy. The Congdon family's matching pledge effectively doubles the impact of every donation, honoring a man who has served as a mentor, role model, and motivator to generations of cadets and a friend and inspiration to countless faculty and staff members.

As CSM Sidwell has given selflessly to us, let us now rally together to give back to the Academy he has served with such distinction. Together, we can positively impact the lives of the young men at Fork Union Military Academy.

Contributions designated for the Sidwell Leadership Scholarship may be made online at www.forkunion.com/giving or mailed to:

  • The Advancement Department
  • Fork Union Military Academy
  • 4744 James Madison Hwy
  • Fork Union, VA 23055

Cadets have Fun at the St. Margaret's Back to School Mixer

Fork Union Military Academy was invited to the St. Margaret’s School Start of School Mixer this past weekend. The Academy took a group of cadets down to Tappahannock, Virginia to participate in a full day of fun.

“When we first arrived, I already knew we were going to have a good time,” said senior Jonie-Galton Ansah. “Their campus is located on the Tappahannock River which provided beautiful views and great activities. The school offered beach volleyball, kayaking, tubing and paddle boarding to name a few activities. My favorite, personally, was being able to go out and interact with other people. It was beyond refreshing to see people outside of the camo green and just be a normal teenager. Overall, it was a great day out with the guys and filled with laughter.”

St. Margaret’s School is a boarding and day school for girls in grades 8th through 12th. It’s located on a beautiful riverfront campus in an area full of historical, cultural, and natural resources.

The mixer was such an exciting event and I enjoyed it so much,” said ninth-grader Nico Brown. “They had great activities such as boat rides, jet skiing, and so much more. It was great to go off campus for the first time this year and I cannot wait for the next one.”

The next activity scheduled is hiking Devil’s Marble Yard on Sunday, September 24.

Check out the cadet activities planned for this year:

Happy Birthday to the September Babies

This past Thursday, Fork Union Military Academy celebrated all cadets, staff and faculty who have birthdays in September with prayer, cupcakes and fellowship.

A huge thank you to SAGE Dining who continues to surprise us with amazing desserts each month.

Happy Birthday to:


  • Chad Miller
  • Sara Miles
  • Jay Faith
  • Michael Head
  • Jason Bevins
  • Winston Brown
  • Carolyn Lewis
  • Laura Whitworth
  • Col. Coggins
  • Curtis Toney
  • Chip Chace
  • John Tindall
  • Scott Krogh
  • Theodore Wade


  • Kaiden Myer
  • Nehemiah Vann
  • Harry Momolu
  • Davion Johnson
  • Duke Loremil Mota
  • Colton Childers
  • Kebron Zulla
  • Riley Belden
  • Kadin Busser
  • Noah Miller
  • Brandon Parker
  • Gordon Currey
  • Daley Adams
  • Mason Ng
  • Alexander Abron
  • Seth Groelz
  • Caden Canedo
  • Joshua McGuire
  • Juan Leyva Saavedra
  • Anthony Tittel
  • Keyonte Davis

Fork Union Hosts Annual College Fair

This past Thursday, Fork Union Military Academy hosted its annual College Fair on campus at the Estes Athletic Center. Cadets were able to meet with agents from 45 regional and national colleges. This outstanding informational experience gave the cadets the opportunity to meet face-to-face with college admissions representatives and ask various questions as they consider their post-high school options.

"The College Fair at Fork Union is always one of my favorite stops of the year," said a representative from Radford University. "I know how hard these young men work to prepare themselves for higher education. The dedication to bettering themselves as men, students and athletes is unrivaled. The Academy should be proud of the caliber of students they continue to produce year in and year out."

Below is the list of schools and organization that attended:

  • Advanced Technology Institute
  • Averett University
  • Bluefield University
  • Bon Secours Memorial College
  • Bridgewater College
  • Chowan University
  • Christopher Newport University
  • College of William & Mary
  • Concord University
  • East Tennesssee State University
  • ECMC - The College Place
  • Ferrum College
  • George Mason University
  • Hampden-Sydney College
  • James Madison University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Lees-McRea College - Banner Elk
  • Liberty University
  • Lincoln Memorial University
  • Longwood University
  • Mary Baldwin University
  • Marymount University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Radford University
  • Randolph College
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Regent University
  • Richard Bland College
  • Roanoke College
  • Shenandoah University
  • Sweet Briar College
  • Universal Technical Institute
  • University of Florida
  • University of Lynchburg
  • University of Mary Washington
  • University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
  • University of Mount Olive
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Virginia's College at Wise
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Military Institute
  • Virginia State University
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington & Lee University

Get to Know Our Teachers:

CPT Cris Higginbotham

CPT Cris Higginbotham returned to the Academy this year after being hired in 2019. Higginbotham will teach Spanish I, Spanish II and English II this year.

Let's get to know CPT Higginbotham!

What brought you to Fork Union Military Academy?

I've lived in the area for many years and have always heard of FUMA. I know various current and former FUMA staff, and all have had good things to say about the organization and the people here.

What made you want to become a teacher?

I've worked with students of all ages for over 20 years in different settings. Education, whether in the classroom or hands-on experiential learning, has always been a passion of mine. For me, the learning is the focus, the subject is secondary.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Getting to know the students and seeing them improve from one day to the next. It isn't always easy but when it clicks for them, it's a pretty great feeling.

What makes Fork Union special to you?

Fork Union provides a unique level of structure that I find missing in some aspects of our daily lives. Students are given a level of independence at FUMA that I don't think even they realize they have. The choices are theirs to make and the consequences or benefits are equally their own. A student that can succeed here will be well prepared to succeed in college and beyond.

What other responsibilities do you have a FUMA besides teaching?

I have the privilege of leading our Boy Scout Troop after a short hiatus the past couple of years.

What is one thing the cadets would be surprised to learn about you?

Well, perhaps that even though I was born in Puerto Rico (a tiny island with over 3 million people) and lived there for a good portion of my childhood, I moved to a tiny town in Mississippi and lived on a farm while going to high school. My high school graduating class was a whopping total of 12 students.

Welcome back to the Academy, CPT Higginbotham!

Join Us for Parent's Day!

The Academy's annual Parent's Day Weekend is approaching fast! Please join us for an afternoon of festivities, prior to having a three-day weekend with your cadet, on Friday, October 20, 2023.

Below you will find the schedule of events:

Friday, October 20, 2023

  • 1:00 PM | Parents arrive on campus
  • 1:00 to 2:30 PM | Meet & Greet for Parents & Teachers in Dining Hall
  • 2:30 PM | Parent's Day Parade
  • 3:00 PM | Cadets eligible for leave

Monday, October 23 is not a class day. All cadets who depart campus are required to return by 7:00 PM Monday evening.

The Conductor's Corner

Welcome to the Fork Union Military Academy Band’s weekly update! We have a lot that we are doing this year and a lot of extremely motivated students. Every two weeks, the Academy's Band Public Affairs Officer will be writing a short update on how things are going in the band, do individual spotlights or group spotlights. Keep an eye out in the Front & Center for the Conductor’s Corner to see what the band is doing from the cadets’ perspective.

So without further ado, here are the words from our Public Affairs Officer, Cadet Second Lieutenant Niv Patel.

Welcome back to the Conductor's Corner! This past Saturday, the Fork Union Day Parade was held as part of the community organized Fork Union Day event. The band cadets had been practicing all week up until this event, and it showed! They marched down James Madison Highway playing 'FUMA Men Are We.' After the parade, a grand breakfast was served to the cadets including donuts, muffins, coffee, and so much more. All of this was provided by the cadet parents.


This week, the Honors Band officially started. With meetings being held on Monday and Wednesday nights, band members had even more on their plate. The Honors Band will go to special events and will have to learn extra music like Jurassic Park and Thunderer.

The band has also started to practice a new march called Patriotic Parade Sequence. This will be what we play during Parents Weekend when the Corps of Cadets participate in the Pass and Review for the parents during the Parents Day Parade. Spending time during the school days, and even on the weekends, we will see how the band performs during the 125th and Parents Day Parade in the next coming weeks! So long for now...

-C/2LT Patel | Band Public Affairs Officer

Teddy Roosevelt Reenactment Highlights a Fork Union Friday Morning

This morning in the Wicker Chapel, Fork Union Military Academy hosted a special visitor, the 26th President of the United States, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. Sponsored by the Edith & Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation, President Roosevelt (portrayed in character by Mr. Joe Wiegand) arrived at Fork Union in time to observe the band play the national anthem as morning colors was observed.

Upon entering the chapel, Mr. Wiegand, in character as President Roosevelt, was welcomed by COL David Coggins. Remaining in character throughout, he then gave a rousing portrayal of his life, recounting to our cadets the pivotal moments of his life and many of the accomplishments he attained despite many troubles and obstacles.

President Roosevelt encouraged and inspired the cadets to not let the hardships of life hold them back. He honored his father, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., as being the one who set him on the right path, referring to him as “the greatest man I’ve ever known.” He instructed the cadets about his own scripture-based education and the importance of building strong bodies as they build their minds. He challenged our cadets to live lives of rigor and service. He brought his remarks to a close with a recounting of his famous “Man in the Arena” speech. When he was done speaking, he took questions from several cadets, never breaking character as President Roosevelt.

COL Coggins thanked President Roosevelt for his visit by presenting him with a special 125th FUMA challenge coin. COL Coggins invited those cadets who asked questions of the speaker to stick around at the end and have their picture taken with our guest.

This Week's Bravo Zulu Award Winners

Every Friday, the Fork Union Military Faculty and Staff meet to nominate a few who have exceeded the standards and demonstrated superlative performance. Whilst we have various awards and recognitions - a simple "Well Done!" we hope, is also appreciated. The combination of the Bravo and Zulu nautical signal flags, i.e., Bravo Zulu, also referred to as "BZ," is a naval signal, typically conveyed by flag hoist or voice radio, meaning "Well Done" with regard to actions, operations or performance.

The following are the Bravo Zulu awards for this week:

Cadet Gabriel Keener is a freshman and first-year cadet in Alpha Company. He is a boarding student from Raleigh, NC. Cadet Keener took great initiative this last week and was observed by a staff member collecting and disposing of garbage bags of trash left lying around at the dumpster in order to help beautify the campus. His action is an example of character, which is one of our core values. Bravo Zulu, Cadet Keener!

Cadet Matthew Spence is a senior and first-year cadet in Bravo Company. He is a boarding student from Columbia, SC. In the process of building FUMA’s community image, Cadet Spence took it upon himself to pass out candy to children on the sidelines at the Fork Union Day Parade. Kindness is an admirable trait in a FUMA cadet. Bravo Zulu, Cadet Spence!

Cadet Nico Brown is a freshman and third-year cadet in Charlie Company. He is a boarding student from Stamford, CT. Cadet Brown has excelled as a leader, continually making improvements to help new cadets learn FUMA regulations and was recently promoted to the rank of Platoon Sergeant of 1st Platoon. He consistently goes above and beyond to assist cadets with meeting and exceeding battalion standards. His discipline demonstrates one of our core values. Bravo Zulu, Cadet Brown!

Prep Soccer Team stopped for dinner after a game and was informed it was spirit night for a local high school, and if the cadets would mention the school when ordering, it would assist them in raising financial support for their band. As a result of our cadets’ participation, the school earned nearly $500 for their band program. Coach Kendall received an email from the parent that informed the cadets of this opportunity, and she commended the team on their poise, respect, and generosity. The team exhibited respect, which is one of our core values. Bravo Zulu, Prep Soccer Team!

Marching Band participated in the annual Fork Union Day Parade this past weekend. They did an outstanding job representing the Academy and demonstrating their pride and community belonging. Bravo Zulu, Marching Band!

COL Winston Brown, Cross Country and Track Coach, flawlessly coordinated his 26th annual cross-country invitational this past weekend with 48 schools participating. Bravo Zulu, COL Brown!

Ms. Rhonda White planned and coordinated a wonderful College Fair event this week. Cadets in grades 11-PG were able to visit with representatives from 45 colleges. Bravo Zulu, Ms. White!

Upcoming Admissions Events

The best way to learn about Fork Union Military Academy is to schedule an appointment with our Admissions Office and come for a family visit and receive your own individual tour of the campus.

We also schedule a number of Admissions Events on campus and in various cities and regions throughout the year.

Tuesday, October 3 | Northern Virginia High School Fair

  • Interested in learning more about Fork Union Military Academy? An Admissions Team representative will be attending the Northern Virginia High School Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The Langley School (1411 Balls Hill Road, McLean, VA 22101).

Wednesday, October 4 | Admission Representative Visiting NOVA

  • An Admissions Team representative will be visiting the Northern Virginia area on Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Registration to this event is required.

Thursday, October 5 | 23rd Secondary School Fair at Norwood

  • An Admissions Team representative will be attending the 23rd Secondary School Fair at Norwood on Thursday, Oct. 5 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Norwood School - Ruth Rales Athletic Center (8821 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817).

Monday, October 9 | Admissions Open House on Campus

  • Come visit our beautiful campus and learn about Fork Union Military Academy! You will be able to go on a cadet-led tour of our campus, participate in an information session to learn more about the Academy, speak directly with members of our admissions team to get answers to all of your questions, and enjoy lunch in our dining facility. Registration to this event is required. Open Houses are from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Monday, November 13 | Admissions Open House on Campus

  • Come visit our beautiful campus and learn about Fork Union Military Academy! You will be able to go on a cadet-led tour of our campus, participate in an information session to learn more about the Academy, speak directly with members of our admissions team to get answers to all of your questions, and enjoy lunch in our dining facility. Registration to this event is required. Open Houses are from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Monday, February 19 | Admissions Open House on Campus

  • Come visit our beautiful campus and learn about Fork Union Military Academy! You will be able to go on a cadet-led tour of our campus, participate in an information session to learn more about the Academy, speak directly with members of our admissions team to get answers to all of your questions, and enjoy lunch in our dining facility. Registration to this event is required. Open Houses are from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

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?

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