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End of Year Tips for Citadel Parents

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

Seniors in the Class of 2008 march in the Long Gray Line.

The 2013-2014 school year is drawing to a close. The knobs are no more and exams are right around the corner. The Class of 2014 can tell you the days and probably the minutes until graduation. The Class of 2018 are just beginning their early preparations for CSI and Matriculation Day. I’ve decided to list the advice by class.

To the parents of the Class of 2018.

I know right now you are preparing for high school graduation. It is an overwhelmingly wonderful time. Your soon-to-be knob is probably not thinking too far ahead. Trust me when I tell you the best gift you can give your soon to be knob, is their plain toe black oxford shoes. The best thing the soon-to-be knob can do for them self is to wear the shoes over the next few month to really get them broken in. Foot troubles that first month cause many knobs to miss out on activities.

Join the parent group on Facebook for the Class of 2018 parents. You will meet other new parents and a few parents of graduates are in the group to help answer your questions. Be careful what you post to other Facebook groups and pages. Gushing about your soon-to-be-knob on a public Facebook page is not a good idea. Let your family and friends know that advice too. Set the privacy settings on your Facebook page to Friends. When school starts and you see your knob in a photo don’t tag the photo. You can download it and post it to your personal page. Learn to use the search window on this blog and also on the school web site. The Citadel has a great website and includes just about all the information you’ll need to know over the four years.

See the blog entry here called Welcome to the Class of 2018 for tips on the Success packet list (page 6) and the CFA “Nice to Have” list.

To the parents of the Class of 2017

Your cadets just finished the toughest year they have probably gone through in their young lives. Many cadets are so excited to no longer be part of the 4th Class system that they begin to get lax with their studies. Remind them it is a college they are attending.

Sophomore year is also referred to as knobmore year. They are no longer knobs but they are on the low wrung of the upperclass ladder. Even if they have rank, they are the lowest officers. Know that at some point sophomore your cadet they may again question if it is all worth it. They don’t question in the same way they did knob year, but it can happen.

Help them stayed focus on their school work. This year they have a little more freedom and will slowly become more like other college kids. Don’t be surprised if they do not spend their open weekends coming home.

To the Parents of the Class of 2016.

Junior year is a year of pretty major changes. The cadet officers have much more responsibility. They are used to the system and really are very similar to other college kids by now. Junior year at The Citadel has a few unique opportunities.

Some cadets decide to be Bond Volunteer Aspirants, or BVA’s, the group that tries out to become Summerall Guards. This means they are volunteering to go through some of the toughest months of their life. They may have rank, but are treated like knobs when they are with the current Summerall Guards. If your cadet decides to be a BVA know that they will have little to no time to them self. Let them be the ones to contact you. Remind them to keep their studies up.

The second half of their junior year they will receive blazer privileges. They will also have a ring sizing and an opportunity to try on their ring. See the Citadel Alumni Association page for more information on the requirements to received the ring.

Senior year is right around the corner. If you haven’t started a fund for the ring purchase start one now. The ring price depends on the price of gold. The past few years that means just over $1,000. Moms, if you want a ring, you better let your cadet know now. They run around $600.

The the Class of 2014 parents.

Congratulations. I am sure you are experiencing a mixture of emotions. Enjoy graduation week. The school has posted all the information for the week on the Commencement 2014 webpage.

If you can arrive in town early to see the various activities on campus. An award ceremony takes place on Thursday.  This year the luncheon/reception for the new Lifetime members will be held on Thursday at lunch time. The baccalaureate service is Thursday afternoon.

Be sure your camera batteries are charged up for all the events. It goes by in a flash. The photos will help you relive this exciting weekend.

For parents of cadets who will commission into a branch of the military, arrive to the chapel early for the ceremony. After the ceremony the newly commissioned officers will leave the chapel and go outside to render their first salute. You will become a Blue Star family that day. Blue Star Mothers have chapters across the country.

This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.

This photo taken at graduation shows the time honored tradition of tossing your cover in the air once the president dismisses the class. This photo could be taken in any year, but it is from May 2011.

NOTE: Use the search window of this blog to find previous entries on a variety of cadet related topics.


Recognition Day, Graduation, and Summer Plans

Dorie, Nelson and Chelle. Recognition Day 2008

Dorie, Nelson and Chelle. Recognition Day 2008

In less than two weeks the class of 2017 will go through Recognition Day. In 40 days the class of 2014 will join the long gray line of graduates.  The parent Facebook groups are lighting up with posts related to these two huge events in the life of a Citadel cadet.

I get the most questions from parents of freshman and seniors each year. The first year parents are entering a year full of foreign words and rituals. The senior parents are excited about Ring Weekend then graduation. Sophomore and junior year are just not that busy for parents. The cadets slowly become more like other college students. On their time off they aren’t as focused on spending time with family. They begin to develop a social life in Charleston and spend their time off with their buddies.

Sophomore year is referred to as knobmore year for a good reason. They are no longer knobs, but they are the lowest officers in the cadet chain of command, or have no real status among the upperclass cadets. It can be a tough year for many. I have even heard cadets say that they miss knob year when they didn’t have to think about how to order their day. It was done for them that first year. I don’t believe any cadet would really want to go through another knob year. The best thing to do this year is keep your grades up.

Junior year the cadet officers are carrying higher rank and responsibilities. Over 100 juniors each year decide to be Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA’s) in the hope of being a member of the Summerall Guards. That process is all-consuming. Parents of BVA’s should expect them to be busy most of the time with either school work, officer duties or BVA duties. Let them contact you. If you don’t hear from them in a while, just know they really are that busy.

The 2015 Summerall Guards during their first performance of The Citadel Series.

The 2015 Summerall Guards during their first performance of The Citadel Series.

Juniors in general, BVA or not, are busy. They are fully into their college years. The social life continues to pick up. For many of the Army ROTC cadets they are preparing to attend the Leader Development and Assessment Course held in the summer. Cadets who will enter the various military branches participate in summer programs. The non-military cadets are looking for internships in the field they hope to work win when the graduate.

Since we are toward the end of the year I’ll mention a few end of year tips for each class:

For the 4th Class cadets two questions I get each year at this time is, What type of gift should I get my cadet? and Do they really have to be out of the barracks before 7 am on graduation day?

The answer to the first question is, a gift is not necessary, but is always appreciated. A company T-Shirt from the bookstore is the most welcomed gift as it is a sign they are a full member of the Corps of Cadets. Any gift reflecting their status as a full member of the Corps of Cadets is welcomed.

The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.

The Class of 2008 joins the Long Gray Line of graduates.

The answer to the graduation day question is, yes, unless your cadet has duties at graduation, they have to be out of the barracks by 7 am graduation morning. The Corps of Cadets marches in the Long Gray Line parade Friday afternoon. After the parade they turn in their dress gray uniform and get their rooms cleaned up. If your cadet can’t leave before 7 am, they have to wait with their things on the quad of the barracks. Most cadets will find a local family to go to if they have a late flight out that day. Parents, if you can, try to arrive early Friday afternoon to see the Long Gray Line parade.

For many sophomores cadets it is the last summer they will have where they aren’t focused on post graduation activities. Making, and saving, money is the primary focus. Of course each cadet is different. Some end up taking advantage of the summer abroad programs or other school related offerings.

For Army ROTC cadets heading to LDAC:

This year LDAC will be held at Ft. Knox instead of Joint Base Lewis McChord. Much of the information online has not been updated to reflect the new location. The Ft. Knox Public Affairs Office has confirmed that they will post a LDAC 2014 Facebook group sometime in May. They will also post to the WarriorForge blog site in May. The WarriorForge Twitter account has not been updated since August of 2013, but I assume that, too, will start-up again in May. Family members can check these sites once they are active for updates and information on various aspects of LDAC. I did find a Reddit thread about LDAC 2014 too.

Each branch of the service has their own process. My son was Army so I do not have first hand experience with the other branches and their requirements.

For the Class of 2014 and your parents, Congratulations!!

My son was a senior your knob year. I was on campus for your Matriculation Day in 2010. The time has just flown by. Parents be sure to take lots of photos and video of the weekend.

The cycle for next year has already started. The Facebook group for the Parents of the Class of 2018 has over 70 members already. If you are the parent of a soon to be knob be sure to send me an email to request to join the group. My email address is located in the “About Dorie” section of this blog.

The 2015 Bond Volunteer Aspirants

A member of the 2014 Summerall Guards leads the 2015 BVA's in an exercise on Summerall Field. Photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

A member of the 2014 Summerall Guards leads the 2015 BVA’s in an exercise on Summerall Field.
Photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

Corps Day at The Citadel is the annual celebration of the founding of the Corps of Cadets. It is also the weekend the new Summerall Guards make their first appearance during a ceremony on Summerall Field just after the open barracks Saturday morning. For the past several years I’ve attended the events of the weekend. The highlight is meeting the new Summerall Guard who now carries the rifle my son carried when he was a 2011 Summerall Guard.

I am in touch with quite a few mother’s of current 2015 Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA’s). Their cadets have grown into fine cadet officers. Cuts Day, like a final tryout day, is around the corner. My thoughts and prayers are with the cadets as they are run through their paces.

The 5, 2014 Summerall Guards, and the 5, 2015 BVA's, who completed the Commander's Run. photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

The 5, 2014 Summerall Guards, and the 5, 2015 BVA’s, who completed the Commander’s Run.
photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

I’ve written about the process before and will include links to previous posts below. It is a time of great pride for both the cadets and their parents. If you are the parent of a 2015 BVA soon to be Summerall Guard a few reminders.

Be sure to ask what side of the field to stand on during the ceremony, on the barracks side or on the chapel side of the roped off area.

Arrive to the parade field early to scout out your spot along the roped off area.

Bring insect repellant. The no-see-ums can be awful.

Exchange email addresses with the other 2014 and 2015 parents so you can exchange photos and videos.

After the performance and the parade that follows the Summerall Guards usually host a fundraising luncheon when they sell the Summerall Guard parent T-shirts. Be sure to ask your cadet about the time and location.

Best wishes to the BVA’s and their parents as we approach Cuts Day.

2014 Cuts Day video

The Summerall Guards 2014video

Previous Blog posts:

The Citadel: BVA’s and  Summerall Guards

Information for Parents about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards

BVA’s and Summerall Guards: Cuts Day, Mardi Gras and Corps Day

A member of the 2014 Summerall Guards does push ups with a 2015 BVA. photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

A member of the 2014 Summerall Guards does push ups with a 2015 BVA.
photo provided by Sarah Lancaster

The Citadel: Most Common Search Terms

I reviewed the statistics of this blog site today. In my early career I worked in sports information at the college level. The sports information director’s office, or commonly known as the SID office, keeps track of all the statistics for all the varsity sports at a college or university. Looking at stats and trying to interpret them holds a deep rooted fascination for me.

The 2011 Summerall Guards run with the 2012 BVA's the Friday of Corps Day Weekend. photo by Stanley Leary.

When I looked at the search terms used to find the blog I found out of 389 known terms 104 of them related to the Summerall Guards or Bond Volunteer Aspirants. 94 terms had to do with knob year, matriculation day and/or recognition day.  The other roughly 50% had to do with ROTC, general cadet life, and active duty military terms.

The fact that so many people searched for Summerall Guard information and knob year information isn’t too surprising. Both knob year and the Summerall Guards are activities at The Citadel surrounded with mystic and intrigue, mostly by design.

The 4th Class System is designed to make first year cadets learn to follow orders. The knobs are kept dependent on the upperclass cadets for information. Their first year is tough, but they learn to support their classmates and pull together as a team. The system has been in place for years with minor changes. While the knobs are going through their most challenging year their parents are often in the dark as well and end up turning to search engines and the collective knowledge of other parents to help them through.

By junior year some cadets decide to try out to be part of the elite silent drill squad, the Summerall Guards. The cadets who decide to do this are called Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA).  They aspire to be Summerall Guards and voluntarily go through a very demanding training regiment. By junior year many of the  BVA’s hold a high rank in the cadet chain of command which is like having a full-time job on top of a full-time course load. The BVA training is demanding both physically and mentally. It is not unusual for normally communicative cadets to have little communication with their families during this demanding year. All types of rules surround what knobs can and can’t know about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards which builds the mystic and fascination with the entire process.

Class of 2015 knobs head to lunch on Matriculation Day.

While quite different in their dynamics, knob year and BVA year are very similar. They are both bound by years of tradition and time-honored secrecy about the process. So it is not surprising that parents and friends turn to search engines to gain knowledge about both processes.

I’ve written about both knob year and the BVA/Summerall Guard process. Links to the most viewed blog entries and pages follow.

The Citadel: Preparing for Knob Year, Class of 2016

BVA’s and Summerall Guards: Cuts Day, Mardi Gras and Corps Day

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

Information for Parents about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards

For Parents of BVA’s as you wait for Cuts Day

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

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Congratulations to the 2013 Summerall Guards!

2011 Summerall Guard photo by Stanley LearyMy Facebook feed is lighting up with congratulatory notes for the new members of the 2013 Summerall Guards. Cuts Day was yesterday when the 2013 BVA’s were put through their paces. The school usually posts the full list right before Corps Day.

Be sure to make your hotel reservations now for the weekend of March 16-18. The rifle exchange usually happens Saturday morning. Last year the outgoing 2011 Summerall Guards did not do the whole Citadel series before passing their rifles to the 2012 BVA’s, now the 2012 Summerall Guards.

2011 Summerall Guards prepare to pass their rifles. photo by Stanley Leary

Prior to March 17 be sure to ask your son whether he will be closer to the stands or the chapel side of the field as they march out. That way you will know what side of the field to stand on to take photos. Be sure to meet as many other Summerall Parents as you can so you can share photos and video. Fortunately many of the families post their videos to YouTube.

2012 Bond Volunteer Aspirants march onto the parade field. photo by Stanley Leary.

They host a BBQ lunch that afternoon. You can purchase your Summerall Guards Parent t-shirt at the luncheon. It is a fundraiser for the Summerall Guards to help pay their expenses.

Their first big performance is the Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC.

Congratulations to the 2013 Summerall Guards!

The 2012 BVA's prepare to receive their rifles and become the 2012 Summerall Guards. photo by Stanley Leary

Learning Cadet Speak

1st Battalion Quad photo by Stanley Leary

I am now bilingual. I speak English and Citadel parent. It took a while to catch on to the new terms, abbreviations and slang terms, but by my son’s sophomore year I was just about fluent.

A number of  parents of high school seniors are starting their journey to learn about the 4th Class System. A quick look at the search terms leading to this blog tell me there are a good number of new families seeking information.

I’ll post a few terms here. If you are reading this and are the parent or family member of a cadet, please put the terms you’ve learned over the years. You can purchase a copy of the guide book for knobs called The Guidon, or download it here and read about other terms. The Guidon is updated each year and is available online and in the bookstore in Mark Clark Hall on campus.


All in – When all cadets are to be in their room in the barracks.

Black Badge, Red Badge – ROTC pins for cadets who are on an Army or Marine contract.

BVA – Bond Volunteer Aspirant, a junior cadet who wants to be a member of the Summerall Guards.

Brace – a form of attention that knobs must do around any upper class cadet. Try to touch their chin to their spine

Blitz polish or make shine. Brass and shoes can be referred to as being “blitzed out”

Confinements or Cons – punishment for a violation.

Corps Day – a weekend in March to celebrate the founding of the Corps of Cadets.

Division – in the barracks the floors are referred to as divisions, ex. the fourth floor is the 4th division.

El Cid – slang for The Citadel. years ago some cadets cut up a bumper sticker to rearrange the letters. The name stuck.

E.S.P. – Evening Study Period

“Fix your smile” –  refers to the band on your cap.  Keep it down or else you can see a “Smile” of white between the black bill and the white cap.

FTX – Field Training Exercise, usually a weekend trip with the ROTC program.

Gaudy – a term used when a knob or other cadet acts a bit cocky or outrageous

Guidon – a military flag that designates a company or platoon sized group. Each company has a guidon at The Citadel. The clerk (sophomore cadet officer) carries the guidon during the parades. Knobs don’t touch the guidon. Also the name of the book published each year that Knobs have to memorize.

Knobbie mission – when a senior sends a knob to play a prank, usually on another senior.

Knobbie walk – 120 paces a minute

Ombudsperson or Ombudsman – The officials on campus appointed to investigate concerns. A great resource for parents.

Open and Closed weekends – Open means the upper class cadets can go off campus for the night(s) if they don’t have any tours or confinements.  Closed means everyone must be in the barracks at the appointed time each night. You can visit knobs on Open AND Closed weekends.  They will not be on campus FTX weekends.

PT – Physical Training

Press and Full Press – The press is the metal dresser with drawers for folded clothes,  The full press is the closet for hanging clothes.

Quad – the red and white open area of the barracks. See this link for a panoramic view of 1st Battalion (Murray Barracks)

Sallyport – entry gate to the barracks

SMI – Saturday Morning Inspection

Shirt stays – an elastic band that attaches to the bottom of a uniform shirt and to the top of dress socks. It keeps the shirt in place and the socks pulled up.

Sir sandwich – begin and end all answers to an upperclassmen with sir

Spirit Run – Physical training time that takes place with the knobs and the cadre.

Table top – while bracing the knob leans as far back as possible without wavering making them look like a tabletop

TAC officer (Training Advising and Counseling) the staff person usually active duty or retired officer. Each company and battalion has a TAC officer assigned. One point of contact for parents.

Tours – punishment for a violation. walk the Quad with your rifle for one hour = one tour.

Front sallyport of Murray Barracks. photo by Stanley Leary

BVA’s and Summerall Guards: Cuts Day, Mardi Gras and Corps Day

The 2011 Summerall Guards run with the 2012 BVA's the Friday night of Corps Day Weekend. photo by Stanley Leary

Well, February is here. At The Citadel that means the Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA’s) are moving close to Cuts Day. I checked the training schedules the other day to find that Cuts Day for the 2013 BVA’s is Feb. 6. *NOTE: since this posting a parent has told me Cuts Day is delayed until Feb. 14. if you have other information, please post it to the comments section below.

While the BVA’s look forward to Cuts Day as the end of their training period, the current Summerall Guards are moving closer to their trip to New Orleans, LA and Mardi Gras. The time has flown by since my son was a junior and BVA. We waited anxiously to hear if he had made the Summerall Guards. I combed the internet for photos of their first big appearance after Corps Day at the Azalea Festival.

I’ve written about our journey before but this time of year the memories come flooding back. I’ll include a few tips here for parents of both the BVA’s and Summerall Guards.

Be sure to ask or email your BVA and have a plan for how they will inform you if they have made it. I logged onto Facebook the night we thought my son would find out and began to see congratulatory messages being sent to some cadets. My son went tot he gym to work out that night and we received a call from him on his way back to the barracks. Once they find out they have made it, practice for their first appearance on Corps Day begins.

The 2011 Summerall Guards wait for the 2013 BVA's to march onto the field to take their rifles. photo by Stanley Leary.

The Mardi Gras schedule is usually known sometime in January. This year the Summerall Guards posted the schedule to their Facebook group page.  I’ll include the schedule here in case you aren’t on Facebook.

2012 Summerall Guards Mardi Gras parade Schedule:
17 Feb 1830 hrs Le Krewe d”Etat
18 Feb UNK time Krewe of Endymion
19 Feb 1200 hrs Krewe of Thoth
21 Feb 1000 hrs King Rex Parade

The Times Picayune posts news, photos, videos and more on their website. I watched one parade via their web cam last year.

Corps Day Weekend 2012 is March 16 – 18. On Saturday the current Summerall Guards will march onto the parade field first. The schedule is posted to the main website about a month ahead of time. Last year the 2011 Summerall Guards did not do the entire series. They marched out did an abbreviated series then prepared to greet the BVA’s. The BVA’s march onto the field and in a very moving ceremony they take their rifles from the preceding class of Guards.

One tip: find out from your cadet if when they march out they are on the side closest to the barracks or closer to the Summerall Chapel. This will help you know where to stand to watch. My son was in the barracks side 5 rows back on the end. We stood in front of the reviewing stands right on the rope. As with the parades it is really hard to tell the cadets apart. Knowing their position will help you get great photos. While the new class goes through their performance of the series the out going Guards kneel to one side and watch. When it is over the new guards receive their patch from one of the out going Guards. They usually have a fundraising BBQ lunch. At the lunch you’ll have the opportunity to purchase the Summerall Guards Parent and Supporter t-shirts. The 2012 Summerall Guards set up a web site to sell the t-shirts and receive donations. I’m not sure that will be continued with the next class.

The 2012 BVA's march onto the parade field to receive their rifles. photo by Stanley Leary

The first big performance of the new Summerall Guards is the Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC. I found photos through the official website and the local newspaper. The festival now has their own Facebook page too. The Summerall Guards act as escorts for the young ladies (high school aged) who are called Belles and serve as guides for the tour and festival. I don’t know many families that attend this festival. If you live close by and can post photos for the other families I’m sure everyone will appreciate it.

A quick search on YouTube will turn up scores of videos posted of the Summerall Guards over the years. I’ve noticed the number of videos increase each year. Be sure to introduce yourself tot he other families of the current guards. You can share photos and videos with each other. A great way to commemorate your cadet becoming a Summerall Guard is to purchase a nutcracker made by Carolina Cadets. She usually sells ornaments at a table during Parents Weekend and other major weekends. I ordered mine online.

Best wishes to all the 2013 Bond Volunteer Aspirants and their families!

A special thanks to my husband, photographer, Stanley Leary, for the photos. You can see all his photos of Corps Day 2011 here. To see what the ceremony looked like March of 2010 see this clip. THe passing of the rifles is at about the 6:50 mark. A video of the March 2011 is here.

2011 Summerall Guards photo by Stanley Leary

The 2012 Summerall Guards perform the CItadel series for the first time. photo by Stanley Leary

The 2011 Summerall Guard watch as the 2012 Summerall Guard perform the Citadel series for the first time.

Family and friends greet the 2011 and 2012 Summerall Guards after the ceremony. photo by Stanley Leary

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