The Ebb and Flow of Emotions for Parents of Cadets

The Class of 2016 with their new rings Run out of McAlister Field House.

The Class of 2016 with their new rings Run out of McAlister Field House.

I returned home Tuesday evening this week from a visit to The Citadel. While my son graduated in 2011 I have several “adopted” cadets that I’ve become close to. Several 2016 cadet friends received their rings both Friday afternoon then also on Monday. I enjoyed visiting with their families.

One mom in particular, Laurie Connors, I have corresponded with for the past three years, but I never met her. I met the dad and their son on matriculation day in 2012. I’ve taken the cadet to meals when I’ve visited. Her daughter and mine share several interests. We’ve exchanged gifts in the mail, talked on the phone, but until this past Friday afternoon we had not met face to face. We had a great visit around the picnic tables by the boat house. They went to get ready for the Friday evening Ring Ceremony, when the cadet escorts their mother, or other significant family or friend through the ring, and I was going to grab a bite to eat since I had not had lunch.

What happened next was a surprise, but the type I’ve come to expect on these visits. I ran into a recent graduate, Temyrick Mosely. Temyrick and I first met before his knob year. I had invited the entering knob football players and their parents to our house for a little gathering. It seemed each time I visited campus I’d run into him. We have a series of selfies we’ve taken together so of course last Friday we had to take another one. He’s working in the DC area now and was in town for the game. It was such an unexpected treat to see him.

A photo from a visit in 2013 or 2014

A photo from a visit in 2013 or 2012

The traditional selfie with Temyrick the Friday of Ring Weekend, 2015

The traditional selfie with Temyrick the Friday of Ring Weekend, 2015

Friday night was the first time I’ve been inside the field house for the Ring Ceremony since my son graduated. It was also the first time I watched the Junior Sword Arch perform in person. What a treat! After wards I took photos of the cadets going through the ring until Laurie, David and David’s date walked through. Since each year moms ask about what to wear I decided I take a good amount of photos so everyone can see the variety of outfits worn this special night. You can see all my photos from the evening and the weekend in this Facebook album.

It is such a proud moment to walk through the ring with your cadet.

It is such a proud moment to walk through the ring with your cadet.

Saturday was jammed packed with activity as the Saturday of Parents Weekend is each year. The rain was threatening all day but fortunately it held off until after the morning activities and before the football game. I began the morning in 4th battalion visiting the knob I dropped off on Matriculation Day. It was a treat to finally meet his mother too. From there it was off to 1st battalion to see the many Bravo families I’ve some to know. An added bonus was getting to see my son. He served his last day in the Army in early October and was in town celebrating with his fellow 2011 grad friends. It was great to see him so happy. I also learned that my ex and his wife are now host family for several Bravo knobs. It is such a small world. Of course I took plenty of photos of the knob promotion ceremony and the banners in each barracks I visited. (see this Facebook album)

Laurie, David and Dorie

I had to leave campus to treat after the morning activities but returned to the campus area for a celebration dinner for several seniors I’ve some to know. It was an honor to be invited by a family of a Delta senior who also was extremely supportive of me and my son during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2012-13. Time really does just fly by.

Sunday morning was a good bye brunch at the Marina Variety Store with Laurie and her husband Bob. I am so glad we were finally able to spend time together this weekend. I look forward to seeing them again at graduation. From brunch it was off to campus to attend the Catholic Mass. The services this Sunday are special since each one includes a Blessing of the Rings for seniors. I spent the rest of the day on campus watching a volleyball game then walking the campus.

Dorie and Nelson

2011 Classmates

While the families have returned home the cadets had to jump right into mid terms. It is a time of year that is stressful for each class. The cadets look forward to the festivities of Parents Weekend and then are thrust into the intense study/testing period. Fortunately in the next week or so they will have a reprieve form the stress with the day of service. Cadets spread across the area and help at schools and community groups providing needed volunteer support for projects. A really neat addition tot he activities this year is the painting of a mural to honor the fallen victims of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church this past June. The project is spearheaded by Professor Tiffany Silverman, the very talented person behind the Fine Arts department on campus.

Each cadet has their own experience on campus. The knobs at this point are either finding their stride and a workable balance with their school work and military training, or they are struggling to keep it all together. For many is falls somewhere in between. While I’ve not endured the 4th Class System I’ve been told by many cadets and graduates it is a struggle all year long just to keep going. If you are the parent of a knob who is struggling encourage them to seek support through the academic support center. Talk with their academic advisor and the academic officer in the cadet chain of command. They all want your son or daughter to succeed. Like Dumbledore said in J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” Help is available at The Citadel, but the cadet is the one who needs to seek the help. In his book, Sword Drill, David Epps describes the struggles of knob year and grades. A poor showing the first semester knob year does not mean the follow semesters will follow suit, but it does take focus and a lot of work.

In the weeks ahead the campus will host returning graduates for homecoming, then the quick march to the Thanksgiving furlough is anticipated. Parents of knobs will begin to hear stories of making a special hat for their senior mentor.

It is key for families to remember there is an ebb and flow to each school year and each semester of the year. As I mentioned earlier the cadets are on a rollercoaster of emotions, but you should not get on that ride with them. Listen to their struggles and then encourage them to look for solutions. Remind them of their choice to attend this school and that they have the inner strength to get through it.

If at any time you are struggling as a parent, reach out to your support system. It isn’t easy, but as I witnessed with my son and his friends this weekend, the results are worth it.

Before I leave campus each visit I stop at the boathouse and go out to the dock to take a few photos. It is such a tranquil place on a campus not known for it's tranquility.

Before I leave campus each visit I stop at the boathouse and go out to the dock to take a few photos. It is such a tranquil place on a campus not known for it’s tranquility.

A Citadel Cadet Speaks Out, Gives Thanks

Dorie Griggs:

I posted a video to my Facebook page from The Citadel Brigadier Foundation dinner the other day. My friend Bobbie O’Brien reposted it to her blog, Off the Base.

It is an important speech for all cadets to hear. This young woman shares her perspective on the things other cadets complain about.

Originally posted on Off The Base:

My thanks to Dorie Griggs – a former Citadel parent – for sharing this video. It’s worth watching the full 6 minutes to hear from this young cadet on scholarship.

She is living proof of what can be when opportunity is given.

View original

Parents’ Weekend at The Citadel, 2015

The Class of 2018 lines the street to cheer on the Class of 2015 as they march to the field house to receive their rings. Oct. 2014

The Class of 2018 lines the street to cheer on the Class of 2015 as they march to the field house to receive their rings. Oct. 2014

In just a few short weeks scores of families will head to Charleston and the campus of The Citadel for Parents’ Weekend. The class of 2016 will receive their rings (THE Ring) Friday afternoon and the Class of 2019 will go through a promotion ceremony Saturday morning. They will move from being cadet recruits to cadet privates. While it is a fun weekend for all classes the focus is really on the seniors and freshman, or knobs as they are called. I am very excited to attend the events this year at the invitation of a few friends.

The school has posted the schedule for the weekend. I’ve copied the times down and made some notes on each event.

Friday, October 9: (Note: Parking begins to fill up before noon on Friday. Allow extra time to walk to your destination on campus if you arrive closer or after noon.)

10:30 amReport to Parents by the President and Senior Staff:  If you are in town early and can attend, these talks are always informative.

The Class of 2015 ready to receive their rings.

The Class of 2015 ready to receive their rings.

12:55 pm – The seniors process from 2nd battalion to McAlister Field house as the knobs cheer them on. If you are on campus, this is a fun tradition to watch. The knobs in the class of 2019 line both sides of the street and cheer on the seniors as they process by. It is a great time to take photos and video.

For families of seniors: Families of the seniors really should be seated inside before the processional. If you really want to see them march in and you have a large party have someone save your seat, or designate one person to take photos. We had our seats staked out on the middle aisle part way up the stands my son’s senior year. My husband is a photographer and found this was the best place to get photos of the ring being presented. The seniors are divided in two groups by company then in alpha order. Be sure to ask your cadet which side their company will be on to make it easier for you to spot them when they are seated. Each company invites a special person to their class to give them their rings. It can be a former cadet officer TAC officer, alumnus or other person special to the class. Ask  your cadet who they selected. The school will have a video of the presentation after the ceremony. See this link for a video from a previous year.

Our extended family: Dorie Cadet Lucas, Dorothy Lucas, Chelle Leary. Oct. 2014 photo by Stanley Leary

Our extended family: Dorie Cadet Lucas, Dorothy Lucas, Chelle Leary
photo by Stanley Leary

After the presentation ceremony is over the seniors run out of the field house, across the parade field to the chapel. This began after the presentation was moved to the field house. cadets used to receive their rings in the chapel years ago. The past several years the seniors began to run to the chapel and knock on the memorial plaques and chapel door with their ring. They then run to their company letter. Junior cadets form an arch that the senior run through, grab a glass of sparkling cider then throw the glass at the company letter. If you position yourself at the sallyport with a view of the company letter you can see this ritual play out. I wrote about my son’s senior year here.

The seniors will spend a little time inside the company then will join you outside the barracks for photos and to show off their ring. Have your camera ready! The seniors smile more this weekend than they have for the previous three years.

The Summerall Guards have a practice Friday afternoon. Others will have free time before the ring ceremony Friday night. (See this video from 1991 to see the tradition hasn’t changed much over the years.)

For families of knobs: If you can get to campus to see the march into the field house it will give you a glimpse into the pride the seniors feel. The knobs will cheer on the seniors and then will be able to leave campus fairly soon after the seniors go into the field house. As with everything else this first year the knobs are not in control of their time. Let them know when you will get to campus and ask them where they want to meet you. Be aware that some families will not be able to visit their son or daughter this weekend. If you can, invite your knob’s friends without family in town to join you. You will have the entire afternoon and evening together. Ask your son or daughter when they wan to return. Many go back a little early to get their rooms ready for open barracks in the morning.

1:00 – 3:30 pm – Information reception Various vendors and cadet clubs have display tables set up in Mark Clark Hall. Bring cash and your check book. In the past, some vendors have not taken credit cards. If you see something you want get it this weekend. There is no guarantee they will have it at a later big weekend.

6:00 pm – Ring Ceremony and Family Photos The evening begins with the Junior Sword Arch (JSA) opening the event by performing their silent drill. You are not required to be there for this, but it is a very neat performance to watch. Some families/groups who go through the ring later in the evening opt to go out to dinner rather than watch the JSA. Each company and group of cadets are given the time to go through the ring.

My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring. 2010 photo by Stanley Leary

My son invited a good friend to join us as we went through the ring. 2010
photo by Stanley Leary

Traditionally the cadet escorts their mother through the ring. Over time this tradition has broadened to other significant people to the cadet. It is also traditional for the women to wear a formal dress since the cadets are in their most formal uniform. You will see cocktail length or evening slacks suits on some in attendance, but the majority still wear formal dresses. A video of the presentation from a previous year.

Gentleman going through the ring wear either a dark suit or a tuxedo. If the men are not walking through the ring they dress for the dinner plans the family has that evening. The cadet and whomever they escort are to be on line at least 15 minutes before their scheduled time. Be sure you wear comfortable shoes if you are walking through the ring as you may be waiting a while to walk through. The rest of the party not going through the ring go to the stands to sit and wait for them to walk through.

A note about dinner. Since the companies go through at different times each family/or group of families will decide when they need to have dinner. Reservations are important since it is a Friday night and a big weekend in Charleston. As a side note, many seniors reserve Friday night for family then will go out with their classmates Saturday night. Of course that too varies with each cadet/family.

Saturday, October 10:

8:00 am Buyer Auditorium, Mark Clark Hall – Coffee and juice is available for parents. Vendors of various types including the photographer who takes the company photos are available.

Parents of Regimental Band Company guests may enter Padgett-Thomas barracks at 8:00. Band company has other duties this morning.

The Class of 2018 receive their company letter.

The Class of 2018 receive their company letter.

8:30 – 10:15 Open Barracks Families and their guests can visit their cadet in their room. Some parents use this time to bring food items to their cadets. For many it is the first time to see the barracks room fully made up and inspection ready. The knobs have spent a lot of time on the company banner. Be sure to make a special note of the banner. There are various bulletin boards that are painted by the cadets in each company.

8:45- 9:15 am Kelly Cup Competition The Kelly Cup is a competition between squads made up of knobs from each company. The final four squads compete Saturday morning for the Kelly Cup. Your son or daughter will have told you if they are participating. If they are not you have more time to spend with them before their promotion ceremony.

9:30 – 10:00 Regimental Band and Pipes Concert Held on the parade field this is a nice concert to attend while the knobs prepare for their promotion ceremony.

10:10 – 10:20 am Fourth Class Promotion Ceremonies A very moving ceremony for the knobs and their families. The knobs are lined up in front of the company letter. Family and friends can watch from around the group. The company commander and the company 1st Sgt present the knobs with their company letter. Afterward they do push ups together. This ceremony marks the end of the cadre period.

Bravo Company knobs receive their company letter. October 2014

Bravo Company knobs receive their company letter. October 2014

Once the ceremony is over the cadets get ready for the parade and families move to the parade field to wait for the parade to start.

Each year various groups of parents use this time to meet somewhere on the parade field to say hello to friends they have made through the various Facebook groups. This year I’ll be watching the promotion ceremony for Bravo Company then will be by the jet, “Annette” outside of 1st battalion.

11:00 – 11:45 am Review Dress Parade and Awards. Get your spot on the parade field or in the stands for the parade. Some people bring their own folding chairs and place them along the ropes before the parade to save a place. You’ll soon learn the best viewing spot for the company you want to see. It is nice to watch from the stands, but we enjoyed watching first battalion some on to the field from in front of Mark Clark Hall for some parades.

12:00 – 12:45 pm Lunch You have several option for lunch as outlined in the printed schedule. I think every family should eat in the mess hall at least once during the four years at the school. You’ll need to have reservations for the mess hall or a boxed lunch. Many families pack a picnic lunch, or bring food for their cadet then tailgate for their lunch. You will not be able to take your cadet off campus for lunch. The Citadel Alumni Association has a great BBQ lunch in the Holliday Alumni Center from 12 – 2:00 for $12 per person. It is good food and served int eh nice air conditioned room on the first floor. This is where I usually eat before the game.

The 2015 Summerall Guards prepare to perform The Citadel Series at halftime. Oct 2014

The 2015 Summerall Guards prepare to perform The Citadel Series at halftime. Oct 2014

2:00 Football Game The cadets march to the stadium from the barracks as fans line the street. The Summerall Guards perform at halftime. The cadets have to stay together in the stands during the game. The knobs will be able to get something to eat and drink at half time. Many families go ahead before half time and get them something to eat and drink and have it waiting for the knobs. If you haven’t already you can get tickets to the game through the ticket office. You can also buy tickets the day of the game.

Many families tailgate before and after the game. The families of knobs usually try to leave campus as soon as the football game is over and the knobs are released to leave. This first year knobs usually want to sleep, eat and sleep some more when they get off campus.

Sunday, October 11

9:00 Worship services in the chapel and Buyer Auditorium

The cadets have the day to be with family and friends.


Dress: For families of cadets from knob year to junior year the dress for the weekend is casual.

Senior families Friday afternoon is business casual. The evening is formal (see notes above). Saturday is a typical football day.

Watch the weather forecast and pack accordingly. You cannot bring umbrellas into the football stadium but you can wear a rain poncho.

Parking: Like all big weekends, parking is tight. The earlier you arrive the better selection of parking spots you will have. See  the official weekend information for details

See the previous posts about Parents Weekend/Ring Weekend for more photos of the events:

Our Ring Weekend Adventure, Part 1

Our Ring Weekend Adventure, Part 2

The Citadel: Parents weekend Notes for the Class of 2014 and 2017

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Special Weekends: Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day, Recognition Day

The Citadel: Parents Weekend and Ring Weekend Tips

Senior Parent notes

The Citadel: Parents/Ring Weekend 2012 + Hotel Info

An Unexpected Citadel Related Surprise

Pat Conroy atEach Labor Day weekend my daughter and I attend the AJC Decatur Book Festival. It is a wonderful event, the largest independent book festival in the country. We enjoy meeting the authors, browsing the booths, and the fun of just being there. We never know who we will see.

This year we decided to start our visit at the session at the First Baptist Church of Decatur. Pat Conroy was scheduled to speak. Chelle and I arrived early enough to sit toward the front of the sanctuary. As we were deciding where to sit a gentlemen stood up to call us over. He said, “You don’t know me, but I know your husband and I recognized you from the photos in his blog.” As it turns out this gentleman, Randy McDow and my husband knew each other from their time at Georgia Tech. Randy introduced us to his father and we joined them in their pew.

As we talked, Randy mentioned that his father, Thomas F. McDow, was mentioned in The Boo, a book by Pat Conroy, for walking 120 tours in the quickest time recorded at the school. A tour is a punishment which requires a cadet to walk with their rifle for 50 minutes back and forth across the barracks quad for each tour given. After the tours were walked Thomas had his shoes bronzed. He retained one shoe and gave the other to assistant commandant, Lt. Col.Thomas Nugent Courvoisie, also called The Boo. The story is documented on The Citadel’s Daniel Library website.

After telling us the story Thomas showed me a photo of the shoe and the plaque on the shoe. We also took photos together to show my husband. It was the perfect visit to start off our experience at the book festival, especially since we were there to hear Pat Conroy, the well known author and a graduate of The Citadel. You just never know when you’ll meet a legend.

Thomas McDow and the bronze boot

Thomas F McDow holds up the photo of his “bronzed boot.” L-R Chelle Leary, Dorie Griggs, Thomas F. McDow. photo by Randy McDow

The plaque

The plaque under the “bronze boot”

Dorie and the McDow's

L-R Dorie Griggs, Thomas F. McDow, Randy McDow

Time Management and Cadets: A parents’ perspective.

The Class of 2019 take the Cadet Oath

The Class of 2019 take the Cadet Oath
A video of the ceremony

Since 2008 I’ve been supporting parents of cadets as a volunteer. First through The Citadel Family Association and since 2011 on my own through this blog and a few Facebook groups I started for new parents. In the past 7-8 years I’ve noticed a pattern emerge to the questions, problems and concerns that are raised by parents of first year cadets, or knobs as they are called.

The week after Matriculation Day the parents are aching for a glimpse of their son or daughter through photos posted on the school web site or related Facebook groups. This year I was on campus until Tuesday after Matriculation Day and managed to take quite a few photos.(see links below) A few academic offices and cadet activities in addition to the Citadel Photography Facebook page posted quite a few photos.

The next stage is right after the knobs get their phone and computer access. This stage is when various concerns come up with the parents, usually around food and sleep issues. Some knobs contact their parents requesting items they didn’t bring with them. Related questions revolve around how best to ship care packages.

We are entering the period of time, a week into classes when the academic concerns begin to surface. Some knobs struggle with time management and feel over whelmed. It can be very hard for parents to hear the stress in their son or daughter’s voice. The stress for many parents is the adjustment from being the person who helped their student through high school navigate their class schedule and assignments through conferences with teachers and counselors, to now empowering their cadet recruit to seek their own support by using their chain of command, their academic advisor, and the academic support office on campus.

As I pointed out in the blog entry, Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel, the essence of being a leadership school is empowering students to take control of their experience. They will learn through a series of trials and triumphs. The temptation for many parents to assist is great. But parents must remember their child is at a school that values taking responsibility for ones actions. The best thing for parents to do is be their sounding board, not to take on their worries and concerns. The four years at the school will be filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. The key for parents is not to get on the rollercoaster with their child. You can serve as an observer offering tips of how to proceed, but not doing it for them.

Several years ago a former ombudsperson on campus told me how he helped cadets who came to him for advice. He said he would ask the cadet, who in their chain of command did they feel they could talk to about the problem/situation. If they didn’t feel they could trust the advise from the chain of command what about the company TAC officer, then an academic advisor, academic support center, or professor and so forth. The cadets are taught the roles of each cadet officer. They also learn the steps to resolve a problem. The best thing a parent can do is walk them through the problem solving by asking the same type of questions.

As first year parents are learning they too are making adjustments to a new normal. It isn’t just their cadet recruit. The school also has resources available for parents if they have concerns. The offices are located on the Office of the Commandant page under the H.E.L.P. link. If a parent just needs to talk to a fellow parent, the Citadel Family Association has parent volunteers who serve as company and battalion representatives.

The first year is one of many adjustments and “learning experiences” for both the knobs and their parents, but support is available.

Links to my photo albums follow:

Matriculation Day 2015 photos

Matriculation 2015 Sunday photos and Meet the Bulldogs

Monday after Matriculation Day

Oath Ceremony Monday Night

End of Oath Ceremony

Photos by Stacy Carter Studios (much better quality then my snap shots!):

Photos from CSI, Matriculation Day and others

How Long, LORD – A psalm for knob year

Cadre members lead knobs from the Cadet Store back to their company. August 2015

Cadre members lead knobs from the Cadet Store back to their company. August 2015

I spent this past year as a chaplain resident at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in their clinical pastoral education (CPE) program. CPE is training for chaplaincy or pastoral care. The program is tough by design. You are forced to look at your own issues so you can fully be present for others in their time of stress.

This past week was Challenge Week at The Citadel. The first year cadets, or knobs as they are referred to went through an intense period of training. The upperclass cadets charged with their training are called cadre. For the past week the cadre have taught them about the military system. The knobs are marched to and from a series of meetings. It is a tough week. Last night the knobs were given their phones back. From what I am hearing from their parents, they have had a mixed bag of experiences.

The conversations with the parents of knobs this morning made me remember my first time preaching at the Sunday nondenominational chapel service at the VA. The text for that Sunday included Psalm 13, “How Long, O LORD.”

As I field questions and comments from the parents of the knobs I found myself visiting the text of Psalm 13 and reflecting on how appropriate it is for knob year.  (If you are interested  you can listen to my sermon from last year here.)

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me Forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Each of us has our own story of feeling isolated and alone. The feeling that everyone, even God has abandoned us. Some days it feels like everything is against us and everyone else is enjoying success. The key is in verse 2, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” In just about every situation our thoughts are what we wrestle with, more than the actual situation. This is especially the case with knobs. They may internalize what their cadre is saying.

     The beginning of my residency I had so many doubts about my abilities that I was my own worse enemy. It was only after I realized that fact that my entire experience changed to a positive one. I had been so caught up with what other people said or thought, I forgot to own my strengths. I’ve learned knobs go through a similar experience, each on their own time frame.

     From what I’ve seen at The Citadel the knobs that come in with their eyes wide open to the process, the ones who attended the pre-knob overnight visit and attended CSI, have a realistic view of the process. The ones who enter knowing it is a game and do not internalize what is being yelled at them seem to adjust the best. It is a thinking game. The knobs who maintain their sense of humor and do not internalize negative comments fair the best. For some it takes a while to adjust.  

Knobs line up after getting their heads shaved Monday of Challenge Week.

Knobs line up after getting their heads shaved Monday of Challenge Week.

      The ones with a sense of humor and a good outlook will hear the yelling but not take it to heart. One cadet friend said he used to stare at a spot on the wall and when the cadre yelled he’d pretend he was in a Peanuts comic and hear, “Wah Wah Wah Wah Wah “Shine your shoes” Wah Wah Wah Wah Wah.” I am told there is usually a nugget of information the knob needs to listen for like, shine your shoes, polish your brass, etc.

     The parents of the knobs need to remember that for their son or daughter Challenge Week is the toughest experience most of them have ever been through. When the knob calls home they need someone to vent their emotions to, someone who won’t yell at them. Listen and encourage this first year. If you are ever concerned about your cadet you can contact the staff people listed on this page.

     Knob year, and the following three years, are a rollercoaster for the cadets. As I wrote earlier, parents should not get on that rollercoaster with their cadet. Yes, it is hard to hear your child struggle, but if it was their decision to go to The Citadel you need to remind them that they knew what they were signing up for. Remind them of the inner strength they have to get through this experience. Help them draw on their faith system, whatever that may be to get through the tough times.

Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.

Knobs in the class of 2019 study their Guidons.

     The whole year isn’t like the first week. Once classes start and the extra activities they will have opportunities to socialize and have fun. There are faith groups on campus, club sports, and special interest groups. They will each eventually find their niche.

     Parents need to keep the larger picture in view for them. Help them break it down to small goals. Get to Friday, enjoy the weekend, get to the next Friday, etc. Hold on until Parents Weekend. After that, Thanksgiving is around the corner. Winter furlough comes quickly after Thanksgiving.

It won’t be long until they will be preparing for their sophomore year and telling stories about their knob year experiences.



In the Company of Men a book by Nancy Mace

Sword Drill by David Epps

Matriculation Day at The Citadel, 2015

Cars begin to line up at the alumni center in the early morning hours of Matriculation Day.

Cars begin to line up at the alumni center in the early morning hours of Matriculation Day.

In just a few more days the Class of 2019 will report to The Citadel for Matriculation Day. The nerves of the future knobs are probably running pretty high right now. If you notice your son or daughter withdrawing a bit, and being a little more quiet than normal don’t worry. Just like athletes who withdraw to get mentally ready for the big game, future knobs begin their own pre-game ritual. Parents begin to feel a bit nervous too. Allow yourself to feel these feelings Sending a child off to college is a big transition. Sending them to a military college is even tougher.

It is important that the future knob take ownership in getting everything together before Matriculation Day. Once their families say good-bye Saturday morning it is the knob who must navigate the 4th Class system while family and friends move to a support role.

Before reporting in make sure you’ve packed everything on the Success packet list, on page 6 and 7, and what they want to bring from the Citadel Family Association’s Nice to have List. Each year someone forgets their wallet and ID (Driver’s license). Be sure to add that to your packing check list. Be sure to pack in containers so that one person can easily carry each of them. Some families use disposable boxes and bags in addition to the 2 plastic bins so the knob will not have to go to the storage warehouse.

Entering knobs place their belongings on the side walk outside the barracks and go to check in. Family members wait by the belongings.

Entering knobs place their belongings on the side walk outside the barracks and go to check in. Family members wait by the belongings.

Each family makes their own plans to get to campus on either Friday or just Saturday. There are some meetings that are good to attend on Friday if you can be in town. The Army ROTC cadets have a meeting Friday afternoon. A few families have decided to meet at the canteen for lunch on Friday at 11:30 before the meeting. If you are on campus then stop by. The canteen is in the Mark Clark Hall building. The same building that houses the Bookstore and the post office. Other groups have their own special meetings. If these gathering apply to you and your student you would have gotten an invitation/notice.

Many families take the opportunity to go out for a nice dinner the night before the student reports in. Charleston is noted for wonderful restaurants. The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau has a guide if you need help deciding where to go for dinner. If you are staying in a local hotel chances are several other families will be there too. I encourage families to say hello to other families that look like they have a college freshman aged student with them. Chances are they will be future classmates.

On Matriculation Day the "Blue Shirt" volunteers are parents of cadets who volunteer to help the new cadets get settled in. Here you can see a group carrying items into 1st Battalion.

On Matriculation Day the “Blue Shirt” volunteers are parents of cadets who volunteer to help the new cadets get settled in. Here you can see a group carrying items into 1st Battalion.

Saturday morning be sure your student has a good breakfast then get to the Holliday Alumni Center by 7:00 am. The soon to be knob should wear their white crew socks, athletic shoes, shorts/pants and a shirt (ticked in). The first thing they will do once they get to their barracks is change into their “knobbie clothes.” If they already have the socks and sneakers on it is just easier. It is also a good idea to say your real good-byes at the hotel. Things move pretty quickly once you get to campus.

Some families find it helpful to do a dry run from the hotel the night before. If it rains Saturday morning allow extra time to get to the campus. Charleston roads do flood when it rains. The traffic diagram is on the Matriculation Information page of the Office of the Commandant page online. You will visit the Office of the Commandant page all four years so you may want to bookmark it in your computer. Print out and bring the Traffic Diagram, FERPA form that must be completed and signed by the student, and the schedule for the day.

Once you arrive at the Holliday Alumni Center you’ll drive up in your car and the cadets there will give you the letter for your son or daughter’s company. Follow the map to the appropriate barracks. You’ll be instructed by the “Blue Shirt” volunteers and cadets at the barracks where to unload the car and put the things. You’ll also be told where to move your car. The Blue Shirt volunteers are parents of current cadets who volunteer to help the new families each year. Some travel quite a distance just to help out on this big day.

Once outside the barracks your son or daughter will be told what to do. Usually they report to the admissions representative at a table in the sallyport (entry way to the barracks). This is when the parents, and anyone with the families, just wait. Bring a folding chair with you if someone in your party has trouble standing for long periods of time. Once inside the barracks the cadet recruit will follow directions. They will eventually come out and let you know when it is alright to carry their things to their room. Once everything is in the room the parents and family leave. Do take time to get a photo of all of you either outside the barracks or inside the room. You’ll cherish them.

Caitlyn Lees, 2012 grad, sits at the sign in table with a cadet on Matriculation Day.

Caitlyn Lees, 2012 grad, sits at the sign in table with a cadet on Matriculation Day.

Parent must leave the barracks by 10:00am. Once the parents leave the gates of the sallyport will close and the introduction of the cadre will begin. This can be a very tough things for some families to watch because it signifies the beginning of a week long period when you will not hear form your son or daughter. It is best to move onto the fieldhouse for the information fair and president’s address.

There is an information fair in the McAlister Fieldhouse right next to 1st Battalion. It is good to go by there and visit the various tables. The Citadel Family Association will have representatives there serving some refreshments to. It is air conditioned, there are restrooms and you can have a seat for the President’s Address.

Once the address is over you are free to leave the campus. Some families stay Saturday night. Others want to go straight home. If you are in town Sunday you can attend the Sunday morning chapel service. You will not see or be able to talk to your son or daughter. Many families find they enjoy the time in the chapel after a stressful day Saturday. Monday evening is when the knobs take their cadet oath. The past several years the school has provided a live stream of the event online. Watch the school web site to see if they will do it again this year. It is not an event to stay for. It begins at 7:00 pm and only lasts 15 minutes or so. You won’t be able to talk to your son or daughter. Many local parents who stayed said they couldn’t tell where their child was. They have their hair cut and all in the same uniform.

Sunday morning chapel service.

Sunday morning chapel service.

Once you know your child’s company, reach out to the CFA company rep. you can find a list on their website. If you haven’t already, join the Facebook group for 2019 parents. I ask that you send me a private message on Facebook or an email to verify that you are a parent before I will confirm your request to join the group. The group is a great way to share photos and get information on the big weekends and events on campus.

Best wishes to the

Class of 2019!

The Class of 2014 reports in on Matriculation Day and receives their "knobbie" clothes inside the barracks.

The Class of 2014 reports in on Matriculation Day and receives their “knobbie” clothes inside the barracks.

Knobs line up in 3rd battalion to get their PT clothes. On matriculation Day.

Knobs line up in 3rd battalion to get their PT clothes. On matriculation Day.

Citadel Family Association, "Blue Shirt" volunteers wait with parents of the Class of 2015.

Citadel Family Association, “Blue Shirt” volunteers wait with parents of the Class of 2015.

Bravo knobs meet the cadre right after the sallyport gates are closed, Matriculation Day, 2010

Bravo knobs meet the cadre right after the sallyport gates are closed, Matriculation Day, 2010

The Bravo Co. cadre lead the Class of 2014 to lunch on Matriculation Day.

The Bravo Co. cadre lead the Class of 2014 to lunch on Matriculation Day.

Class of 2015 knobs head to lunch on Matriculation Day.

Class of 2015 knobs head to lunch on Matriculation Day.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,367 other followers

%d bloggers like this: