All new students at Valley Forge Military Academy & College are called “Plebes” until they complete a period of cadet training (approximately ten weeks in the fall and approximately six weeks at mid-year) known as the Plebe System. The Plebe System encompasses incoming cadet training until Recognition Day (Joining the ranks of the Corps of Cadets). The Plebe System is developmental, incremental, and progressive in nature and cadets will build on the skills learned during two phases in the fall and one phase at mid-year in order to successfully complete the training. It is a period of adjustment during which a new cadet learns to place the concept of duty and being a member of a cohesive team above personal desires. The Plebe System will test each cadet mentally, physically, and morally in a positive and encouraging environment.
The goals of the Plebe System are to:
- Prepare incoming cadets for success in the Five Cornerstones programs – Academic Excellence, Character Development, Personal Motivation, Physical Development, and Leadership – the Five Cornerstones.
- Teach cadets to be loyal and effective followers as part of the leadership development experience.
- Introduce cadets to the daily operations, rules and regulations of Valley Forge–tasks, conditions, standards.
- Instruct and train each New Cadet in the standards and conduct expected of a member of the Valley Forge Corps of Cadets.
- Introduce cadets to the customs and traditions of Valley Forge.
- Instill confidence, teamwork, loyalty, honor, respect, responsibility, selflessness, and self-discipline in a standards based, values focused system.
- Begin to set the foundation for a cadet’s development as a future ethically minded citizen-leader of character.
- Inspire cadets to strive for excellence in all they do.
- Provide a powerful and inspirational leadership experience for the Cadet Chain of Command and all upper-class cadets through positive leading by example.
One of a Plebe’s highest priorities during this busy period is to earn the Cap Shield. Earning the Cap Shield is a time honored tradition that focuses the cadet on the basic “tenets” that are the hallmark of being a Valley Forge cadet and alumnus. To qualify for the Cap Shield and to be eligible for recognition, Plebes must memorize several items verbatim and complete prescribed practical exercises.
The Cap Shield requires Plebes to memorize:
|The Mission||The Cadet Prayer||The Cadet Resolution|
|The Honor Pledge||The Anti-Drug Pledge||The Alma Mater|
In addition to the memorization requirements, Plebes must successfully complete the following Cap Shield practical exercises:
- Demonstrate the Position of Attention
- Demonstrate the Hand Salute
- Perform Military Close Order Drill
- Identify Rank Insignia of the Army, Cadet Officers, and Non-commissioned Officers
- Identify Key Buildings and Sites on Campus
- Answer Questions about the History, Traditions and Distinguished Graduates of VFMA&C
- Successfully complete the Crucible Event
Plebe System (Phase I – Applies to Fall and Mid-Year Starts)
The first phase of the plebe system will begin following the conclusion of the academic orientation period and will be approximately six weeks in duration. Plebe training will be conducted on a daily basis until the first day of classes. Once academic classes start, plebe training will be conducted primarily on weekends and is designed not to have an adverse impact on a cadet’s academic and athletic commitments.
Plebe training will primarily focus on individual skills and understanding the importance of team building and teamwork. Cadets will learn how to salute, march in a formation, perform rifle drill (to prepare for parades), customs and traditions, and classroom discussions on rules and regulations, and the importance of the Honor Code. Adventure training will also be interspersed throughout this phase of training in order to develop individual self-confidence. The Director of Student Activities will plan social and athletic activities to supplement the plebe training on weekends.
During Phase I of training, plebes are not authorized ordinary leave (they may be granted medical leave and leave for special circumstances), may not possess or use cell phones (cell phones may be used for academic purposes), nor use campus telephones. Plebes may use computers and other technology (e.g. tablets) for academic purposes and for checking their Valley Forge email account only. Computers/tablets and other devices will not be used for external e-mail, watching television programs, movies, or any form of social media during the initial phase of the Plebe System. During this time Plebes are encouraged to write letters home and may receive letters and packages from family and friends.During this time Plebes are encouraged to write letters home and may receive letters and packages from family and friends. Upon earning their Cap Shield, Plebes will be authorized to make one telephone call to their parents and may then begin using the Boodle Shop (cadet lounge) during their free time.
Plebe System (Phase II – Applies to Fall only)
Phase II of the Plebe System will be approximately four weeks in duration and end with Recognition Day. Training will continue to be conducted only on weekends. During this phase, they will participate in marksmanship training, high ropes training, squad competitions and continue to hone their drill and ceremony skills. They will use the skills learned in both phases to prepare them for the Crucible. The Crucible is the culminating training event for all plebes.
All plebes during this phase will see an increased opportunity for privileges to include computer (nonacademic purposes) and cell phone use, walk out and overnight leave as long as they are in good academic and disciplinary standing.
Recognition as New Cadets
All plebes who earn their Cap Shield and successfully complete the Crucible are recognized as New Cadets during a Recognition Ceremony. This event officially marks the end of the Plebe System. A cadet is then considered to be a member of the Corps of Cadets and is entitled to take advantage of all privileges of a New Cadet in the Corps of Cadets. All recognized New Cadets in good academic and disciplinary standing will be eligible to apply for merit based weekend leave privileges beginning the following weekend. New Cadets will continue to earn additional privileges based on their overall performance as a cadet. TAC Officers and the cadet chain of command will begin to evaluate the leadership potential of New Cadets for possible assignment as cadet leaders beginning in their second semester.