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1970 & 2020: Building an R-MA Legacy

The Class of 2020 with Bill Abelkop '70 at Skyline Laser Tag & Paintball, 2018Almost three years ago, the Class of 1970 created a new program at R-MA, forging a legacy partnership with the Class of 2020.

Inspired by the Naval Academy’s “Link in the Chain” program,
R-MA Board of Trustees Chairman Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, USN, Retired ’70 spoke to his classmates and suggested “reaching back 50 years…to help their experience while they are at Randolph-Macon Academy.” Their primary goal: to anchor the relationship between the Class of 2020 and R-MA.

“What started as a thought amongst members of the Class of 1970 during our 45th reunion in October 2015 has blossomed into a variety of fun-oriented and academically challenging activities,” said Bill Abelkop ’70, chair of the partnership (pictured above with the Class of 2020 at Skyzone Laser Tag and Paintball in 2018).

When the Class of 2020 first arrived on campus, they were greeted by members of 1970 and encouraged to take advantage of all aspects of life at R-MA, inside and outside of the classroom. They discussed the Honor Code, as well as the three pillars on which R-MA was founded – knowledge, leadership, and character – then went through a scavenger hunt. Said Jim Fort ’70, “That was a lot of fun. There were a couple of them that, even in that little setting, I started to make a connection.” The students agreed; “I have loved to hear all of the wonderful and interesting stories about the alumni’s lives after R-MA,” said Taylor Wreath ’20, this year’s Group Commander. “Also, hearing about all of the mischievous things they did while at R-MA is amusing.”

The meetings and activities have continued – everything from Pizza Dinner Night Out and an essay contest to donuts at registration and breakfast at Fall Family Day, from Christmas Candlelight Services to a speech contest, and, most recently, a trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The classes will visit the National Air & Space Museum this fall, and a trip to Mount Vernon is in the works for the spring.

“And there is more to come for the Class of 2020 during their senior year!” said Abelkop. “Creating lifetime friendships and the ability to offer support and guidance to the Class of 2020 – that gives credence to what the 20/70 Partnership set out to accomplish. We pride ourselves on knowing that the Class of 2020 will overachieve the goals they set for themselves, as well as be known as a ‘legacy class’ – one that gives without expectation of acknowledgement, one that offers support for future cadets without being asked; and one that demonstrates daily what it means to have graduated from R-MA.”

For more information on creating a future class partnership, contact the Alumni Office at or at 540-636-5343.