A rainy weather system moved into the area a few days before Homecoming, and R-MA staff, faculty, alumni, students, and families watched anxiously as the system stalled and dumped rain on the campus for three days straight. In the end, it was no match for the prayers of the R-MA family. By the time alumni began arriving on campus on Friday, October 14, 2011, the skies were clear.
Early arrivals had the opportunity to hear seminars on "Healthy Eating and Living" by Dr. Tim Harlan, "Service Before Self" by R-MA Alumni President Chuck Swaim ’77, and "State of the Academy" by R-MA President Maj Gen Henry Hobgood. All of the seminars took place in Stan Fulton Hall. Donors who gave gifts of $250 or more in the last or current fiscal year were thanked at a small reception later that afternoon.
The big kick-off for the weekend was the Welcome Back Dinner held Friday night at the North Warren Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company’s Celebration Hall, just north of Front Royal, with words of welcome from Hobgood and jazz music led by R-MA instructor Ed St. John.
Saturday began bright and early in the morning with the 50th Reunion Class’ “Breakfast with the President.” During the annual Memorial Ceremony, the flag flown over the school during the past year was given to Alex Boulden ’06, the grandson of A. Bennett Boulden ’51, who passed away July 1, 2011. Bennett Boulden was a strong supporter of R-MA throughout his lifetime.
After standing firm against the 30-mph-hour wind gusts during the Memorial Ceremony, the cadets marched down to Riddick Field for the annual parade, where the flag bearers continued to battle the blustery weather.
The Alumni Luncheon, combined with the Alumni Association Annual Meeting for the second year in a row, featured performances of the R-MA Chorus, including “Oh Happy Day.” Corps Commander Cadet Lt Col Sean Knick spoke to the alumni, as did First Squadron Commander Cadet Major Arcadia Chen.
Special recognition was given to Col John C. Boggs, headmaster of R-MA from 1933 to 1965, by the class of 1950. Webb Davis ’50 and John Thompson ’50 shared a few memories of Boggs and then unveiled a portrait painted for the President’s Dining Room, as well as two photo portraits (courtesy of R-MA Photographer Cindy Rodney)—one of John Boggs and one of Mattie Boggs—to be hung in the chapel.
During the lunch, several awards were given out: Al Orgaine ’61 was recognized as the Class Agent of the Year; the Staff Recognition Award went to David Gillis; Kayleen Hebeler ’01 was named the Young Alumna of the Year; Lew Nalls ’56, Charlie Whitmore ’56, and Ed Wildrick ’52 received citations for Recognition for Service to the Alumni Board.
Several dozen people gathered outside of Melton Gymnasium once more in the afternoon; this time to celebrate its re-opening after a year of refurbishment projects. (Click here for related article, or watch the video on YouTube.) The Class of 2011 dedicated the Peace Pole they had donated to R-MA as their class gift last year.
Finally it was time for what, according to the number of people gathered there, is the favorite part of Homecoming: the football game. When the Hargrave Military Academy Tigers scored on their third play, the fans thought it was going to be a long afternoon. However, the Yellow Jackets fought back with a touchdown of their own, then went on to score two field goals and a safety while holding Hargrave scoreless. However, when Hargrave finally did manage to score, they also successfully completed a two-point conversion to draw the teams even, 15-15. At the end of regulation, the score was a nail-biting 22-22.
In high school football, overtime is played by each team getting four downs to attempt to get into the end zone. R-MA did so on their first down and kicked the extra point to pull ahead 29-22. Unfortunately, Hargrave also scored a touchdown, and once again managed to convert on their two-point attempt. The Tigers upended the Yellow Jackets with a heartbreaking final score of 30-29.
In spite of the score, everyone was proud of the Yellow Jackets. “They fought hard the entire game, did not give up, and continued to be good sportsmen throughout the game, and that says something about their character,” said Hobgood. “The alumni around me were extremely impressed that while the other team was getting called for penalties and personal fouls, our athletes kept their heads.”
“In the [three] years that Collin [McCabe ’12] has gone to RMA and played football,” wrote Kim McCabe P ’12 on R-MA’s Facebook page, “that was the most heartfelt game I have ever seen. They should all be very proud and congratulations to Coach [Frank Sullivan] for an amazing team effort on Saturday!!!! All of us parents are very proud of the whole team.”
During halftime, Nathaniel Nguyen ’12 and Maria Aleksandrova ’12 were named Homecoming King and Queen. The students later enjoyed the second annual “Haunted Homecoming” mixer, held in Turner Dining Hall.
The weekend concluded with the Alumni Celebration, held this year at the Holiday Inn. Several classes also held their own reunions throughout the area. Overall, 236 alumni registered during the weekend; additional alumni came to campus and visited without registering. A full list of alumni will be available in the next issue of The Sabre magazine.
“This was my second Homecoming in the Alumni office, and the feedback I received throughout the weekend was incredibly positive,” said Alumni Director Ann Brander ’02. “Our cadets and JROTC staff put on a beautiful memorial ceremony and parade. I heard several alumni commenting that the band didn’t sound nearly that good when they were here! Also, the chorus sounded great at the luncheon. Overall, the students, faculty, and staff all just did a fantastic job of welcoming our alumni back home.”
Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), founded in 1892, is a college-preparatory, coeducational day and boarding school for students in grades 6 through 12. Students in grades 9-12 participate in R-MA’s 91st Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and have the option to participate in a unique flight program. R-MA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is located in Front Royal, VA.