Men of character are made, not born — a fact that Hargrave Military Academy knows best. While most military academies are known for their core values of duty, service, and self-discipline, Hargrave boasts a student experience that encompasses so much more. Here, young men do not just graduate as scholars but as leaders, athletes, and well-rounded individuals who are prepared for lifelong success.
Located in Chatham, Virginia, Hargrave has kept its cadets engaged, challenged, and inspired since 1909. While many military schools focus on merely improving behavior or grades, a quick stroll on its campus shows that there is so much more to a Hargrave education than that. Hargrave’s holistic approach and structured environment gives its graduates the tools they need to be leaders of character prepared for lifelong success.
Hargrave offers an enriching education environment with two distinctive features: structure and accountability, allowing young men to apply their attention to the areas that matter most while eliminating distractions. An emphasis on spiritual development is prominent here too, and cadets –– between the grades of seven and 12 and postgraduates –– are provided faith development and access to spiritually-based extracurricular activities. Younger boys in grades 7, 8, and 9 take part in a dedicated academic program in the Middle School Center for Integrated Studies, where they hone the specific skills that will ensure academic and interpersonal success later in life.
Hargrave cadets are provided ample opportunities to gain awareness of their potential and hone the skills they need to reach it. Just ask Rob Bartenstein, a graduate from the Class of 1987, who states: “HMA taught me self-reliance, how to study, focus and learn; it taught me to win, and that winning has benefits worth working hard for. They taught me discipline, how to lead and how to follow.”
Underpinning its success are Hargrave’s four pillars:
Hargrave teaches young cadets how to be effective leaders –– not just the kind that call the shots in boardrooms, but lead at home, in their churches, and in their communities. The Corps of Cadets military structure teaches them to build confidence, lead their peers, make sound and ethical decisions, and receive feedback graciously when provided.
Seven core character traits are also reinforced monthly, on rotation, across every aspect of the Hargrave experience –– be it academics, athletics, residential life, or spiritual programmes. At the Center for Leadership and Ethics –– which cadets gain access to as early as Grade 7 –– they begin exploring and developing basic character skills. The leadership curriculum will follow them throughout their journey, starting with a Leadership I course before continuing with Leadership II.
The robust emphasis on character-building has led to Hargrave’s recognition as the only military high school in Virginia certified as a National School of Character.
Hargrave is a school built on Christian principles and assists with the spiritual development of the young men under their care. Despite this, boys of all religious backgrounds are welcomed to enjoy this transformative educational experience. Involvement in a local church is encouraged but not required.
Here, every background is inspired to explore their spirituality in their own ways to lay a solid foundation to build rewarding lives. Worship and fellowship are still focal points of the community. That said, attendance at twice-weekly chapel services is a requirement. Daily Devotion Time is just as meaningful, serving as an opportunity for students to reflect quietly on one’s own, in an intimate group, or in a large one.
Various programmes are also available to make the Hargrave experience all the more holistic, ensuring the enrichment of souls alongside bodies and minds. During Spiritual Emphasis Month, guest speakers and preachers visit the school while special music and group bonding experiences are held all over campus. Transportation is provided to cadets who wish to venture to nearby churches for service or to serve.
Hargrave also boasts rigorous academic instruction that lays the foundation of knowledge necessary for college and develops students’ critical thinking and learning skills. The Academy offers a How to Study programme, which teaches effective study habits such as note-taking, homework planning, and test preparation. This offering guarantees cadets never feel frustrated or overwhelmed with the tasks presented to them throughout their academic careers.
The Academic Learning Center prepares cadets further with individual assessment and proper placement in math, reading and English. When it is time to apply knowledge, every cadet does so during allocated Study Hall sessions and Individual Instruction Time. Other advanced course offerings include Dual Enrollment, Advanced Placement, Honours courses, and various online modules.
It is a formula that works? Graduating classes regularly achieve a 100% college acceptance rate and over 75 cadets have been accepted into US Service Academies. Last year, student-awarded higher education scholarships totalled over four million US dollars.
Sports and athletics
Hargrave students excel just as well outside the classroom. They train their bodies through one of the Academy’s 11 varsity sports offerings: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, rifle, soccer, swimming/diving, tennis, track and field, or wrestling. Guiding each sport are coaches trained through the Positive Coaching Alliance.
Through the Marine Corps-certified Obstacle Course and the Leader Reaction Course, cadets learn the fundamental skills of teamwork, critical thinking, and decision-making — all of which will serve them well in life. Some have found their life’s calling while developing these skills. In fact, 29 alumni advanced to the NBAs while over 100 became Division I athletes.
Collectively, these experiences help mould well-rounded students who are ready to tackle life’s challenges.