Charter schools are nothing new these days, but the Utah Military Academy offers something no other charter school in Utah has yet, a disciplined military environment.
After receiving a unanimous recommendation for approval by the Utah State Charter School Board, the Utah Military Academy is gearing up to move forward with their plans to house grades 7 through 12.
This forward motion began with an open house at the Hill Air Force Base Museum Saturday. This event introduced potential cadets to the incredible community and military leaders engaged in this charter.
The JROTC programs in the state have experienced funding drops and current students don’t have any other options in the area. Board Secretary Major Kit Workman hopes to fill that void by offering a charter school option that will have ROTC teachers on staff. Workman emphasized that the school is not trying to recruit students to the military, but rather create a culture that incorporates the Air Force motto, “Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all you do.”
“I believe this culture of serving others is missing in much of today’s youth. By serving others, you are serving your country whether you serve formally in the military or not. We want to do more than create military students. We want to build better citizens,” said Workman.
“This is not a high school that will have an ROTC program. This is a military school. The cadets will wear military uniforms Monday through Friday. They are going to get really good at push-ups and saluting,” said Matt Throckmorton.
The theater in the Hill Aerospace Museum filled up with potential cadets and parents quite quickly, so while Workman presented to the first group, Throckmorton presented the second overflow group further into the museum.
There will be four tracks for cadets to choose from: track one focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, English and Math) college prep; track two focuses on liberal arts/college prep; track three coaches students through aerospace technology; and track four will hone in on computer coding and networking.
The goal will be to get each student military ready, but more importantly, college ready. A lot of schools claim to get their students college ready, but all that really means is that the students will pass enough courses to be able to move on to college. At Utah Military Academy, each cadet will be required to apply to, and be accepted to, several different colleges.
Staff at the school will help each student explore every avenue to get into the senior and junior military colleges as well as obtaining ROTC scholarships for non-military colleges and universities.
Throckmorton said, “Teachers and staff will address students in an attention-getting manner. They will talk about your hair, they will talk about your uniform. Attention to detail is very important. It builds a skill set in a cadet, building an excellence in everything they do. Leadership isn’t simply sitting in front of a crowd. It is about maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses.”
Military training intentionally engrains leadership skills into each program. Throckmorton assures this makes better students and better future leaders. “ROTC students score better on standardized testing, but also in leadership and confidence.” Nationwide there are 21 public schools that have this culture. The nearest school is in California.
Cadets will be prepped to attend any college they wish, but specific training will be offered for West Point military academy, the Naval academy, the Air Force academy, Coast Guard academy and the Merchant Marine academy. All five schools are tuition-free with the caveat that you will serve in the military for a time.
All but one of these academies require a military appointment to get in. Most people know that means talking to a senator, but what people might not know is that there are several other avenues you can take to get appointments. The cadets at Utah Military Academy will have staff trained to help them have every chance possible to have their applications turn into acceptance letters. These mentors will keep in touch after graduation to help the cadets with their first year of college.
The school will run on an A/B schedule. Classes will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the last hour being a mandatory extra-curricular course. Marching, combat teams and aircraft simulator teams are just a few of the offerings for these extra courses. Several different opportunities will be offered to make cadets aggressively competitive going into college applications. Among those offerings will be: color guard; rifle teams; network defense teams; coding; speech; and debate programs.
“We want our students to not just hit the benchmark, but be top-notch by the time they graduate. They will have a good, rich military environment in every class, not just the ROTC classes,” said Throckmorton. Concurrent enrollment will be offered for those who are ready, as well as AP classes.
The goal is to have three campuses eventually. The next one will have an Army flag near Camp Williams. The flag for the St. George location has not been decided yet, possibly Navy.
The location of the school is not set in stone yet, but it will likely be in the Riverdale/Hill Field area and will accommodate up to 360 cadets. The school will follow the Davis County school calendar.