A boarding school education is transformative in all the right ways. Ask graduates and they speak of safe grounds, dedicated teachers and effective programmes. They celebrate the equal playing field and their friends for life. For many, it was a kind of utopian community they reminisce wistfully of and credit for their lifelong success.
Military boarding schools offer even more perks. Structure instills discipline and uniformity make superficial things — like clothes, heartache, acne — less important so inner personalities can begin defining themselves. Whether they want to get back on track, stay on track or just to create a new track, the military structure and spirit offer a distinctive focus other types of schools cannot replicate.
The best military boarding schools turn students into young persons with more than just good grades during their formative high school years. They embody honour, integrity, dedication, loyalty, grit, professional demeanour, and a can-do-attitude. Here, they evolve in all the right ways.
Hargrave Military Academy is that kind of American boarding school. The justifications for boys to attend a school like Hargrave are many and various — they span from rigorous academic instruction to preparation to find perfect-fit colleges and a highly-qualified, thoughtful faculty.
If the academic justifications for boys to attend a school like Hargrave are numerous, so are the non-academic ones. Everything matters in college applications, not just grades. Success in university and beyond is built on a strong ethical, physical, emotional and spiritual foundation — and these features of Hargrave provide them:
Like home, but bigger and better
Hargrave cadets live as “companies” modelled after the military, in two-man rooms and with adult supervision. Meals are cooked from fresh, whole foods and use quality ingredients, fueling bodies and minds.
Over at the 24-hour fully-equipped 18-bed infirmary, four skilled nurses staff work as Hargrave’s first line of defense in cadet health. They get to an injured cadet faster than their local EMS, which is only a block away. They also work closely with Hargrave’s athletic trainer when sports-related injuries occur.
Always busy weekdays and weekends
Hargrave cadets work hard and play hard. With numerous clubs offered during the week, they get to explore their passions and test their strengths, while building lifelong relationships with their fellow cadets. Whether it’s martial arts, chess, rock climbing or boy scouts, there are many opportunities to be active and involved.
The Student Activities Department ensures that weekends are just as dynamic. There are four kinds of weekends: Open Weekend — students are able to depart campus; Closed Weekend — all cadets are required to be on campus; Special Weekend — all cadets are required to be on campus for a special event (Mother’s Day weekend, Military Ball weekend); and Incentive Weekend — open weekend for qualified cadets.
The department plans a mixture of activities for Closed and Incentive weekends, both on and off campus. For the former, cadets can access a 50-metre indoor pool, tennis courts, a military obstacle course, a climbing tower, a leadership reaction course, and a paintball course.
They are just as encouraged to sign up for supported activities off campus, to make the most of the region’s top attractions.
Virginia: Where the best kinds of childhood memories happen
The birthplace of the nation. A “genteel, understated nature.” A great big outdoor playground, where you can conquer the rapids of the James or bike by the river down the Virginia Capital Trail. An arts scene full of galleries, street murals, the Institute for Contemporary Art, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. One of America’s best foodie towns. The international destination for craft beer. Dog-friendly, everyone-friendly.
That’s Richmond, the capital of Virginia, just 2.5 hours from Hargrave. Here, you’ll get your heart pumping as you get your fill of creative culture and tickle your tastebuds.
An hour and a half by car south-east is Norfolk and its neighbouring city Virginia Beach. With 182 miles of beaches, 270 miles of biking trails, over 20 breweries and numerous independently-owned eateries, you won’t be able to do it all, but it’ll still be an awesome time.
The above are just a sampling of what Hargrave students get to explore during the weekends and holidays. For Chinese New Year, international students checked out the colonial weapons display and learned about dueling through the Alexander Hamilton exhibit at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the Virginia Fine Arts Museum.
Later, they toured the Virginia capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, before heading to dinner at an authentic Chinese restaurant for a taste of home. They even received “hongbao,” literally meaning “red envelopes,” a traditional Chinese New Year gift, from Colonel Brown.
Special events or not, it’s always a great experience among fellow cadets. To learn more about Hargrave’s unique camaraderie and location, click here.