Chapter 10 - The Alumni Association Takes Over
Over the next six years the SMA Alumni Association kept an effort alive for the re-establishment of the Academy. Several sites, including the DeJarnette Mental Health facility east of Staunton and the Old Augusta Military Academy were investigated. However, due to a variety of issues, no real progress was made regarding either site.
DeJarnette Mental Health Facility
On April 7, 1984 the class of 1974 sponsored a reunion on the hill in the old mess hall. A surprisingly large number of alumni representing classes from 1929 to 1975 attended this weekend event. The people attending this reunion determined that the SMA Alumni Association needed a viable and visible image in Staunton as a rallying point for our continuing fraternal relationship and as a springboard to any future reestablishment opportunity. Representatives of the Reunion met with the Alumni Board of Directors in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1984 and recommended the establishment of an SMA archive in Staunton as a prerequisite to any future effort to reestablish Staunton Military Academy.
As a direct result of this recommendation, and the strong show of interest by a reasonably large body of alumni, the Board authorized the purchase of the SMA academic records and historic memorabilia that had been disposed of. The records and memorabilia were still in the possession of Don Allen, '50. He offered to sell these to the SMAAA for what he had paid for them, $12,500. A small group of alumni, and members of the Board of Directors', contributed approximately $9,000 of the $12,500 needed to purchase the records and memorabilia. The balance was funded by the SMA Alumni Association/Foundation.
Ike Kivilighan, SMA '29
Horace Parsley, SMA '24
Ike Kivilighan, '29 and Horace Parsley, '24 contacted Don Allen and told him that the Board had authorized the purchase of the records and memorabilia to the SMAAA. Don agreed and said he would also sell the name rights for SMA to the SMAAA for what he had paid for it; once again the price was $12,500. Since the Board of Directors had only authorized the purchase the records and the memorabilia with SMAAA funds, Horace told Don he would pay for the names right himself and donate them to the SMAAA. The next weekend Horace and Don drove a truck down to Don's home in Lynchburg, VA, loaded it up, wrote the checks, and returned the heart and soul of SMA to its hometown. The SMAAA arranged with the Augusta County Historical Society to temporarily store everything while a permanent location could be obtained. The SMAAA went on to open its first Staunton Office in a building located on the Thornrose Cemetery grounds. The second office location opened in a set of rooms at the Ingleside Motel north of Staunton in June 1989.
SMA Alumni Association Office Dedication March 1989
The SMAAA began holding All-class reunions in Staunton as a way to develop interest in the reestablishment of the Academy and to promote the work of the SMAAA in general. The first of these reunions was held in 1986 at the Ingleside Motel north of the city. Interest and attendance was high as Alumni searched out old friends to attend. The reunion was a success in that it sparked interest in the reestablishment and in the SMAAA in general. The reestablishment fund began to grow and plans were prepared by the Alumni Association.
In 1987, the SMAAA released "A Proposal for the Reestablishment of Staunton Military Academy". The plan centered on first establishing a summer program to provide a realistic feasibility of the costs and complexities of operating a military school program, build a base of students and parents to whom the name of SMA would be familiar again, and allow the name of the Staunton Military Academy to be once again in the rolls of educational institutions. The summer program initially opened in the summer of 1989 with approximately 40 cadets on the old Academy grounds which were leased from Mary Baldwin College. The annual SMA reunion was held during the summer session so that the Alumni could see the progress being made. The program continued in the same fashion during the summer of 1990. In 1991, Mary Baldwin College decided not to lease the grounds to the SMAAA for the summer program and the program moved to the grounds of the Massanutten Military Academy. The summer program was abandoned after that session.
SMA Summer Program Cadets 1989
The SMAAA Board of Directors continued to investigate opportunities for reestablishment and reaffirmed the goal of reestablishment many times over the next several years. Finally though, at the July 1998 Board of Director's meeting, the goal of reestablishment was officially abandoned.
Thus ended the great dream of Education started in Staunton by William H. Kable in 1884.