Sonner Hall at Randolph-Macon Academy in March of 2015.
|200 Academy Drive
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
|President||Brig. Gen. David C. Wesley, USAF Ret.|
|Commandant||Col. Frank Link, USAF Ret.|
|Grades||6 - 12|
|Programs||Air Force Junior ROTC|
Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) is a coeducational college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12 and postgraduates in Front Royal, Virginia, USA. The school was founded in 1892 and features both boarding and day programs. Randolph-Macon Academy is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
The 135-acre (0.55 km2) campus overlooks Front Royal, and is located 70 miles (110 km) west of Washington, D.C. It is one of six private military schools in Virginia.
Academics and activities
Randolph-Macon Academy is accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and is also a member of the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMCSUS).
Upper school students (grades 9-12) are required to participate in the Air Force JROTC program, which is currently run by Lt Col RG McManus, USAF Ret. The program focuses on teaching leadership skills, citizenship responsibilities, and the importance of community service. In 2012, R-MA became one of eight schools in the U.S. to be named a Falcon Foundation School. In addition, the school hosts the only private in-house aviation program in the nation. The Academy owns two Cessna 172s (N3525U and N841SP), and the flight instructors, Ryan Koch and Laura Abraham, are members of the Academy faculty.
The middle school campus is less than a quarter-mile away from the upper school campus. This campus provides a separate dorm and classrooms for the younger students. Advanced students may go to the upper school campus to take high school courses.
Extracurricular opportunities at the school include the Speech and Debate team, twenty varsity sports, band, chorus, drama, color guard, and drill teams. The athletic teams are affiliated with the Delaney Athletic Conference, a collection of several independent schools in northern and central Virginia. The Middle School participates in the Valley Middle School Conference.
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- 1892: Randolph-Macon Academy was founded by Dr. William W. Smith as part of the Randolph-Macon College preparatory school program. The original 26-acre (0.11 km2) campus had one main building which housed classrooms as well as dormitories. The original building that was built resembled a castle in its design and architecture.
- 1918: Randolph-Macon Academy transformed into a military school. The program later undertook the title of the "National Defense Cadet Corps."
- 1922: Randolph-Macon Academy finished paying off all but one of its original debts. Later this year, the construction of Rives Hall began. This new building served as an auxiliary gymnasium.
- 1927: On January 10, the original building built in 1892 burned down completely. The origin of the fire which destroyed the building is unknown. As a new building was being constructed, the academy continued to operate. The cadets were housed by local residents and classes took place in municipal buildings until a new building, known as the "Main Building", was completed in October 1927. The Main Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 as Sonner Hall.
- 1929: With the onset of the Great Depression, Randolph-Macon Academy fell on hard times.
- 1933-1934: In an effort to reduce losses, Randolph Macon's military academy in Bedford, Virginia was closed. Cadets from Bedford were moved to Front Royal for the 1933–1934 school year.
- 1954: Randolph-Macon Academy began a massive expansion stage in its history. The school purchased an additional 63 acres (0.25 km2) of land, built a headmaster's home, staff living quarters, and Melton Gymnasium. Also, Rives Hall was converted to classroom use.
- 1960s: Although public attitudes about military school structure were beginning to change, Randolph-Macon Academy held onto the same disciplinary principles as in previous decades. Critics complained that the military school concept was antiquated, and should all together be eliminated. Like the other six military schools in Virginia, Randolph-Macon Academy was able to maintain a large and steady enrollment primarily because of forced public school integration. This temporary enrollment boost collapsed at the end of the decade. During this era, a 500-seat chapel was constructed with the financial aid of The United Methodist Church.
- 1970s: The enrollment at Randolph-Macon Academy dropped dramatically. This was largely in part of the general American consensus of less uniformity during that decade and the economic instability of the United States of America during that time. In an effort to bolster the low enrollment base, Randolph-Macon Academy adopted the United States Air Force Junior ROTC program. The school abandoned its all male, traditional, army style military program, and searched for a new applicant base. Along with its new Air Force affiliation, Randolph-Macon Academy turned co-educational for the first time in its history during this decade.
- 1972: Randolph-Macon Academy amended their policy and admitted its first African American applicant.
- 1981: Col. Trevor D. Turner (USA, Ret.) was hired as President (1981-1997). Col. Turner is credited with saving the Academy and its extraordinary turn-around during the 1980s and 1990s.
- 1980s: Randolph-Macon Academy managed to increase the applicant base from its lag in the 1970s, and near the end of the decade, Randolph-Macon Academy began another expansionary period. The school annexed an additional 45 acres (0.18 km2), built three new buildings to compensate for the growth in admitted applicants, and increased facilities for female students. These three buildings were Crow Hall, a classroom building, Turner Hall, a female dormitory and new cafeteria, and the Fulton Building, a maintenance facility and musical arts building. A Lower School campus was also built on the Upper School grounds. This "campus within a campus" was established to help younger children become candidates for matriculation into the Upper AFJROTC School.
- 1995: A fire destroyed the third and fourth floors of Sonner-Payne Hall. This, along with flooding from the aftermath, destroyed the main building of Randolph-Macon Academy. Several rumors abound as to what caused the fire; however, the most commonly accepted rumor is that of a cadet disposing of a cigarette in a hole in the wall in a third floor room. This set fire to the insulation which spread quickly. The damages were estimated at around $4.5 million USD. No one was hurt during this event. During reconstruction, cadets lived in an area hotel (the local Super 8 Motel) and attended class as normal, utilizing other facilities on the campus. Sonner-Payne hall was gutted and rebuilt with improvements including computer networking, air conditioning and new windows.
- 1997: President and Headmaster Major General Henry M. Hobgood (USAF, Ret.) took his position.
- 2005: At the end of the '04-'05 school year, Colonel Ivan G. Meith (USAF, Ret.) retired from his position as Commandant of the school. The current Commandant, Colonel Gary N. Sadler, USAF, took over in the summer of 2005.
- 2007: Rifle Range was demolished.
- 2009: Stan Fulton Hall, a new academic building housing all of the humanities, was completed. Rives Hall was demolished.
- 2011: Melton Memorial Gymnasium was refurbished.
- 2013: Maj Gen Henry M. Hobgood, USAF Ret., retired on June 30th after serving 16 years as the president at R-MA. Maj Gen Maurice H. "Maury" Forsyth, USAF Ret., became the 10th president of R-MA on July 1, 2013.
- 2014: General Maurice H. "Maury" Forsyth, USAF Ret., 10th president of R-MA, officially resigned on September 19. Upper School Dean Johnathan Ezell became acting president.
- 2015: Brig. Gen. David C. Wesley, USAF Ret., became the 11th president of R-MA on March 23.
- Sherman Pendergarst, wrestler and football player; former professional mixed martial arts fighter.
- Randolph-Macon Academy. "R-MA President and Board of Trustees". Rma.edu. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- Virginia Association of Independent Schools. "Randolph-Macon Academy". Vais.org. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States. "Randolph-Macon Academy". Amcsus.org. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- "Delaney Academic Constitution and Handbook 2012-13" (PDF). Am.dodea.edu. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Josette Keelor (September 19, 2014). "R-MA President Forsyth resigns". Northern Virginia Daily. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
- Randolph-Macon Academy (January 30, 2015). "Randolph-Macon Academy Selects New President". Rma.edu. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- "Sherman P. UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014. Check date values in:
- Franklin McNeil (July 20, 2012). "Heavyweight Sherman Pendergarst, 45, dies from cancer". Espn.go.com. Retrieved March 21, 2015.