Valley Forge Military Academy & College Welcomes New Plebe Classes

Valley Forge Military Academy Plebes take the oath
Image via Valley Forge Military Academy & College
Valley Forge Military Academy Plebes take the oath

Valley Forge Military Academy & College (VFMAC) welcomes the latest classes of plebes to both the Academy and the College to begin the spring semester.

The entrance of the winter college plebe class is the first midyear college class since 2020.

There is a total of 23 plebes — four in the college and 19 in the academy.

All four college plebes are part of the Citizen Leader program and will not serve in the military.

“The Citizen Leader track is for the student looking for the lessons and training that are typically provided to military-oriented Cadets, but who may not necessarily desire a career in the military,” said Robert Smith, Ph.D MEd, provost of VFMC.

“Citizen Leaders become equipped with the understanding and value of self-discipline, physical fitness, a daily schedule, leadership skills, and character development for everyday life.”

While new students arrive annually in the fall and spring to both schools, the classes, the plebes, and Corps of Cadets operate separately. The plebe classes do not train together.

A plebe gets a trim

For plebes at all levels, the start of education includes learning to think beyond themselves and function as a unit.

They remain plebes until completing the rigorous training program where they demonstrate physical and mental competence and understanding of the VFMAC mission.

On doing so, they will receive capshields — a metal shield to wear on their covers — an honor marking them officially as cadets.

“The plebe system is challenging and it is meant to be,” said Col. Stuart B. Helgeson, USMC (Ret.), president of Valley Forge Military Academy & College. “We know these young men in the academy and young men and women in the college want to become their best possible selves. What they learn here extends to a life of success.”

VFMAC teaches the whole student with a comprehensive education centering around Five Cornerstones:

  1. Academic excellence
  2. Physical development
  3. Personal motivation
  4. Leadership
  5. Character development


Established in 1928, Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne is an international leadership institution comprising a middle school, high school, and college.

VFMA is a private, independent college preparatory school providing a military-style education for boys in grades 7–12. VFMC has been designated by the governor of Pennsylvania and the legislature as the Military College of Pennsylvania.

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