The day to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King may be in mid-January but planning and setting intentions, and then carrying out those plans begins well in advance. VFMAC has always taken an active role in celebrating Dr. King’s legacy and making sure service is part of the education here at both the Academy and the College.
VFMC Cadets prepared and packed meals in a food bank, cleaned up a local church, and engaged in other community activities. In addition, classroom learning included studying speeches, literature, op-eds and film to further understand Dr. King’s impact.
VFMA teamed with Girard College in Philadelphia to support an MLK rally there. Some 30 Cadets participated to support the event with jobs like directing attendees, staffing various stations, and accompanying rally leadership during the event.
“The message of Dr. King is one which can never be forgotten,” said Mr. Aaron Barkley, Associate Dean of VFMA. “This is a generation long removed from the events of Dr. King’s life and we must continue to honor him and his courage, and safeguard the mission of an equal society regardless of race.”
MLK Day itself is one of service however, service at VFMAC is not reserved for just one day of the year. The school and the Cadets have deep ties to the community around the Wayne campus. Routine days of service for Cadets includes caring for the Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge. They have worked in food banks and senior centers to prepare meals for the hungry and sort through donations. In the community of Wayne, the Cadets can be seen sweeping streets and picking up trash.
“VFMA Cadets have been a part of the community for nearly a century,” said Mr. Robert Rosato, VFMA history teacher and community service director. “People like to see them out and about, and our Cadets like to interact with members and merchants of the community.”
There is a clean-up route the VFMA Cadets follow in the town of Wayne. Beginning on North Wayne Avenue by the train station, they clean, sweep and pick up trash, turning right on Lancaster Avenue. They continue the clean-up along Lancaster Avenue to the WaWa. At WaWa, they refresh with sandwiches before crossing Lancaster Avenue and reversing the cleanup on the other sides of the streets.
“Community service is consistent with the Five Cornerstones taught here at VFMA,” said Mr. Rosato. “Academic excellence, character development, personal motivation, physical development, and leadership are all learned and exhibited on MLK Day and every other day of the year. It is what society’s leaders do – and that is who our Cadets are going to become.”