Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 27, 2016

Navy Colors Born Today–Over 200 Years Ago

billgoatThis day in USNA history:

Navy Colors Blue and Gold were born, 27 August 1802

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and To Hunt a Sub, her debut thriller. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB, a program reviewer for ISTE, and freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Currently, she’s editing the sequel to To Hunt a Sub, which should be out next summer.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 24, 2016

Five Popular Excuses for NOT Going to USNA–Still

group5Building a high school grad worthy of being anointed ‘USNA midshipman’ isn’t easy, but nothing worth your effort is. As President John F. Kennedy said,

A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living.

Still, many who are completely capable of qualifying will claim they can’t do it, using the most mundane overused excuses. Read these top five, and then say, Bring it on!

I wasn’t smart enough

C students rule the world. John McCain finished almost last in his class. Smart isn’t the barometer for success in the world. Hard work, persistence, getting along with others, problem solving certainly makes any plan work better.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 19, 2016

USNA Midshipmen Sign 2-for-7 Contract

What is 2-for-7? From the USNA Parent Network:

The “Point of No Return,” is called Two for Seven, meaning two years down and seven more years to serve – two more at the Academy and 5 more in the fleet after graduation. This is a big decision made at the beginning of the Second Class academic year. Many Mids consider both options – to stay and to leave. Midshipmen can leave at the end of their Second Class summer training without incurring any further military obligation. They walk away with two years of undergraduate study completed and no debt owed. However, the hardest years are behind them. They have seen and understand the many career options available to them and they have experienced the teamwork and pride of belonging to their company, their class and to the Navy. They sweat the committment to what seems to be a very long time in their young lives. Once the decision is made, they relax and feel comfortable with their choice, but crossing that line looms large for some.

Here are some images of Second Class Mids, recommitting to USNA:

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 17, 2016

You Want to Be a USNA Midshipman? Start Today

USNA Midshipman--is this you?update

You’ve had the summer off to reflect and plan and now it’s time to start the most seminal period in your lifetime to date, the years that will decide what happens After High School. Do you get accepted to the college of your choice, a second-tier choice, or a safety school? Do you end up in vocational school following a technical dream, or do you end up thrown into a job market which is hopefully better in four years than it is now.

One bit of information I know about you is you are interested in the Naval Academy. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. With classes back (or almost there), I’ll make the following assumptions:

  • You’re enrolled in the hardest classes possible for you. They might be honors, AP, IB–but it is the best you can do at this point in your education. If they aren’t AP, work towards those. If your school only offers honors, don’t worry about it. The Admissions Board only asks that you take the hardest courses available to you.
  • You’re trying out for a challenging sport. It might be Varsity or JV. It might be a team sport or golf. Whatever it is, it’s the best you can do, and that’s good enough. The Navy likes physically-fit members, and the way they can judge that on the application is that you participate to the highest level possible.
  • If you have a unique hobby, continue it. The Admissions people want to know you’re busy, pursuing a passion, striving for the best that you can be. Read More…


If you didn’t like football before your child became a Mid, you will after. Football games are an experience, with the Mid’s march on (through Annapolis if it’s a home game), the stadium with its free food for Navy fans, the Mid section that never looses its enthusiasm, the fly-over by the Blue Angels for the Really Big Games. You’ll either attend or watch it on whatever station plays it, even if it’s an internet station. You’ll get good at sleuthing out those websites.

I’ll get you started. Here’s the 2009 schedule:

usna football schedule They’ve had an exciting team for years–they beat Notre Dame a few years ago and they have been invited to Bowl Games for over five years in a row. Here’s a YouTube of 2008 highlights:

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Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 17, 2016

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself–Senior Year


Here’s a summary of what your senior year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did

building a midshipmanfor the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

  • You spend a week at the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar
  • You spend a week at the Air Force’s Summer Seminar
  • You take the mandatory health class—required to graduate (you sneak it in the eight days between NASS and UND Summer Science Program)
  • You spend three weeks at the University of Notre Dame’s Summer Science program
  • You spend a month with your UCI mentor completing background for your science project
  • You complete the Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology project—“Genotypic and Phenotypic Variation
  • Between Brassica rapa Populations on the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate”
  • You sign up for two more SAT examinations, giving you a last chance at the best score possible. And, you study as much as you can in your summer free time
  • You get your driver’s license

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 16, 2016

Plebe Parent Weekend is Past; Reform is Coming


The physicality of plebe summer is over. Now that exercise moves to the brain. Reform is coming and classes will begin. You probably saw lots of videos of USNA’s weekend, but did you see West Point’s? Zoe wouldn’t consider any Academy other than USNA, but watch this. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s inspirational:

During Cadet Basic Training (CBT) also known as “Beast,” plebes have to memorize lots of different bits of information and military phrases, mottos, and quotes. One of them is the Soldier’s Creed. With no disrespect to the Soldier’s Creed, I thought that Plebes needed something of their own, so I changed up the words, and this is what turned out.
Hope you enjoy it.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 15, 2016

Navajo Code Talkers Day

Great post on the mysteries of the Code Talkers, well-suited to August 14th, the day we honor these folks.

Pacific Paratrooper


During WWI, the Choctaw language had been used to transmit U.S. military messages. With this thought in mind, Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary grew up on a Navajo reservation and spoke the Diné tongue fluently, brought the suggestion of a similar code to General Clayton Vogel early in 1942. The Diné language has no alphabet, uses no symbols and one sound may hold an entire concept. The idea was tested and proved to be faster and more reliable than the mechanized methods. The language has more verbs than nouns, that helps to move the sentences along and makes it far more difficult for outsiders to learn – making it the most ingenious and successful code in military history.

platoon The 382nd Platoon, USMC

The original class, the 382d Platoon, Navajo Communication Specialists, USMC, developed their code at Camp Pendleton. Once a unit of code talkers were trained, they were…

View original post 281 more words

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 10, 2016

Want to Attend USNA? Prepare Yourself Junior Year HS

Here’s a summary of what your junior year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did for usna

the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

Half way there! As much time remains to reweave the frayed edges of your goals as you’ve had to unravel them. Two more years! You’re tired of studying, but feel good about what you’ve accomplished. This is the year you commit yourself to the IB program (and you’ll have to apply for a scholarship to pay for it). Your schedule for this summer:

  • Finish your IB Spanish requirement by taking summer school at the local community college. By July, you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.
  • Take Economics—a required course to graduate high school. This will help with Academic Decathlon next year and free up your senior year schedule (you already have eight classes scheduled for first semester).
  • No surprise that your friends take both Economics and IB Spanish with you—everyone trying to make room for classes.
  • No soccer—you retired. Too many classes.
  • Practice your violin. Another academic year of insufficient violining. By the end of this summer, after putting lots and lots of practice time in, you must decide if there’s a chance to pursue violin at the college level.
  • Find a mentor for your science project. You meet with one of the University of California biology department heads, and he agrees to assist. Now you must collect the required raw data, and determine the workability of your project. You are surprised that none of your friends attempt this prestigious competition. It’s not only the opportunity to accomplish independent research; it’s the chance to be noticed by the outstanding universities that participate in the judging.  As you work on this project, you hear from an acquaintance attending the California Institute of Technology.  He tells you that most incoming Cal Tech freshmen completed independent science research in high school and he wishes he had.

Junior year summer, decisions must be made. You assess where you stand in meeting your goals:

  • On track for the Naval Academy 
  • On track for the University of Notre Dame
  • On track for other top college choices

 You visit a lot of colleges to cull what you like and dislike about the college experience. Tradition is important, as well as quality of professors, class size, and availability of up-to-date teaching materials. You want a residential approach—where most students live on campus all four years. And, it’s important that you can get a job at the completion. Do corporations respect the quality of graduate, and/or does the college market their graduates to the business community? Because of your family’s experiences, unemployment has become a great motivator. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 8, 2016

Plebe Parent Weekend–August 11-14

plebesPlebe Parents’ Weekend is designed to offer parents, family members and guests an opportunity to visit with their Midshipman and experience a taste of the traditions, academics, and atmosphere unique to the Naval Academy prior to the start of the Fall Term. This year, Plebe Parent Weekend is August 11-14, 2016. I can only imagine the excitement of those who are packing, planning, ready to see their Plebes after a long summer. How much will your child change? Will they still be excited about the USNA choice? Will they want to talk or sleep? I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s comments.

For more information, visit the USNA website.

Approximately 3,000 family members and friends are expected to visit the Academy for this event. Parents will have an opportunity to learn about their child’s new life as a midshipmen at the Naval Academy. Parents can participate in activities such as:

  • Touring the dorm rooms in Bancroft Hall,
  • Eating a meal in the midshipmen cafeteria, King Hall
  • Watch a dress parade on Worden Field
  • Tour the Yard
  • Meet with Naval Academy faculty and staff members.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | August 1, 2016

August To Do List for USNA Applicants

usna to do list

Depending upon where you are in the process, you may have done some of the items on this list. Skip them. Be

happy you’re done. Move on to the next.

First Steps:

If you’re serious about attending the USNA or any other military academy, buy a few books (or check them out of the library) on the process. It’s worth the investment because if you pursue this dream, you will be investing much more of your time and money before you achieve your goal. Better to make sure this is the direction you want to go.

Here are two books to get you started:

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 28, 2016

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself Sophomore Year HS

Here’s a summary of what your sophomore year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she didbuilding a midshipman

for the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

You review lessons from freshman year. High school, as expected, proved a daunting experience. So many students, everyone with their own agenda. Too many activities, each important in its own way. And teachers have their own divergent instructional methods with sometimes oxymoronic rules. So much coal to dig through to find the diamonds. Your problems started with questioning what you couldn’t change:

“Why do I have to do it that way?”

You may have been right, but the teacher ignored a poorly presented incursion into his/her teaching techniques by a fourteen-year-old high school freshman with too much attitude. The ill-fated conclusion became either:

  • a) The teacher got annoyed with you and ended up not liking you
  • b) Oops—you turned out to be wrong, and this truth dawned too late to save your grade, or
  • c) You got frustrated with the whole process and gave up.

Well, to your credit, you learned the ropes. It’s over, and this summer something clicks. You realize that life’s default path isn’t your vision of the future.

Without your full and complete attention, you will end up in a location that fate selects—not you. To persuade that invisible force to open doors of your preference demands that you make active decisions and then follow through.

For you, the desire to attend the University of Notre Dame pushes you forward one objective at a time. UND has been part of family lore your entire life. Mostly because of their legendary football team, but also their exemplary scholastics. When you research their academics, you find that distinguished professors teach even freshman classes, and their varied majors cover all of your scientific areas of interest. Plus, they have an orchestra.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 25, 2016

July 25, 1968: Remember the Pueblo Entered National Lexicon

I post this every to remind Americans what happened 48 years ago.

In January, 1968, the intelligence ship, the USS Pueblo, was captured by North Korea. Its crew was not released until December 23, 1968, after being tortured and beaten. Here’s a pictorial of the story, from the official USS Pueblo website:

remember the pueblo

Click for more pictures

Here’s the story, as retold by Oliver North: Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 18, 2016

Class of 2020 Reporting for Duty

halvorson04(as of June 28, 2016)




The Class of 2020 includes 331 women (28%) and a total of 399 minority midshipmen (34%).


Midshipmen were admitted from every states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


The Class of 2020 includes 17 international students from: Bulgaria (1), Cameroon (1), Honduras (1), Kazakhstan (1), Korea (1), Marshall Islands (1), Mexico (2), Micronesia (1), Philippines (1), Peru (2), Poland (2), Singapore (1), and Tunisia (2).


The Class of 2020 includes 53 sons and 19 daughters of Naval Academy alumni (6%).


The Class of 2020 includes 29% from college and post high school preparatory programs, which include:
• 208 from Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, R.I.
• 45 from the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation Program/Civilian Prep Program.
• 84 students have completed at least six months of study at a college or university.



Marine Corps…..9

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular  Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman, and the thriller To Hunt a Sub.  She is webmaster for five blogs, author/editor of over 100 books/ebooks on integrating technology in the classroom, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, an ISTE article reviewer, a monthly contributor to Today’s Author and mother of a Naval Officer and an Army warrior.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 13, 2016

23 Common Sense Rules to Thrive in the Military


From my friends at StrategyPage, a few common sense rules for military folk:

A lot of life’s problems can be explained by the U.S. Military and its applications of common sense …

  1. “Sometimes I think war is God’s way of teaching us geography.”
    (Paul Rodriguez)
  2. “A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what’s left of your unit.”
    (Army’s magazine of preventive maintenance ).
  3. “Aim towards the Enemy.”
    (Instruction printed on US M79 Rocket Launcher)
  4. When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend.
    (U.S. Marine Corps)
  5. Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs always hit the ground.
    (U.S. Air Force)
  6. If the enemy is in range, so are you.
    (Infantry Journal)
  7. It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.
    (US Air Force Manual)
  8. Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.
    (Gen. MacArthur)
  9. Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo.
    (Infantry Journal)
  10. You, you, and you . . . Panic. The rest of you, come with me.
    (Marine Gunnery Sergeant)
  11. Tracers work both ways.
    (US Army Ordnance)
  12. Five second fuses only last three seconds.
    (Infantry Journal)
  13. Don’t ever be the first, don’t ever be the last, and don’t ever volunteer to do anything.
    (US Navy Seaman)
  14. Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.
    (David Hackworth)
  15. If your attack is going too well, you have walked into an ambush.
    (Infantry Journal)
  16. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
    (Joe Gay)
  17. Any ship can be a minesweeper… once.
    (Admiral Hornblower)
  18. Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do.
    (Unknown Marine Recruit)
  19. Don’t draw fire; it irritates the people around you.
    (Your Buddies)
  20. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
    (Army Platoon Sergeant)
  21. If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn’t plan your mission properly.
    (David Hackworth)
  22. Your job is to kill the other person before they kill you so that your national leaders can negotiate a peace that will last as long as it takes the ink to dry.
    (Drill Instructor)
  23. In the Navy, the Chief is always right.
    (Written on the door into the Chiefs quarters)

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 11, 2016

July To Do List for USNA Applicants

partial photo credti: Nemo

Depending upon where you are in the process, you may have done some of the items on this list. Skip them. Be happy you’re done. Move on to the next:

First Steps:

If you’re serious about attending the USNA or any other military academy, buy a few books (or check them out of the library) on the process. It’s worth the investment because if you pursue this dream, you will be investing much more of your time and money before you achieve your goal. Better to make sure this is the direction you want to go.

Here are two books to get you started:

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 8, 2016

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself–Freshman Year HS


Here’s a summary of what your freshman year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did for the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

Lou Holtz, the University of Notre Dame’s erudite ex-coach, once exhorted, “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”

usna applicants

How to crack the Naval Academy application

High School is like the second half, and you’re about to find out if you’re a winner. At this uncertain precipice, all students are equal, crossing the freshman threshold with the same opportunities, and same possibilities for their future. The 4.0 student stands shoulder to shoulder with the star athlete, and the C student who aspires to nothing more than minimum wage work has an equal chance that inspiration will strike. Every one approaches the starting line, not knowing if the race will be won with brains, hard work, willpower, or intensity of desire. All over the country, freshman year equates to making decisions and growing up. Too many changes to think about where to go to college!

But, if you believe that—which you don’t—you’ve missed the opportunity to judiciously select the first steps and the first path leading to your future.

Over the summer, you try to organize the next four years:

  • Set up an Excel spreadsheet to track high school accomplishments. Whatever college you apply for will require a list of accomplishments during high school. It includes categories for ‘Academics’, ‘Awards and Honors’, ‘Sports’, ‘Community Service’, ‘Leadership’, and ‘General Information’ (See the Appendix for an example of Maggie’s spreadsheet). You record everything—no matter how insignificant they seem at the time (even the first place trophy for the twice-delayed Egg Drop Contest), because what seemed important several years ago blurs with the passage of time.
  • Sign up for the twelve-game high school summer soccer league. You love soccer, not yet discouraged by losses, internal politics, poor coaching or insufficient play time. Your achievement in this violent sport derives from hard work rather than raw talent (unlike the enduring success you enjoy playing classical violin).
  • Practice practice practice your violin, tweaking accomplished repertoire and disciplining de rigueur pieces for orchestral try-outs, performances and college auditions. You are well-familiar with conventional repertoire like ‘Meditation de Thais’ and Lalo’s ‘Symphonie Espagnole’, but some of the classics from Bach and Vivaldi take years to perfect. At this confluence of childhood and maturity, the string community in your area already claims you as a public school success story. You have been selected for many Honor Orchestras, concertmaster at your middle school (and about-to-be the first freshman concertmaster of the high school orchestra), and first violin with Pacific Symphony’s youth orchestra.
  • This life-decision has yet to be made:  Do you pursue your passion for music, or an academic path pursuing your equivalent love of science and math? Not a decision a fourteen-year old need make the summer before her freshman year in high school. At this juncture, you still pursue both—playing in three local orchestras while beginning independent research for the Siemens Westinghouse Science Competition—due early your senior year.
  • Retake Algebra to help your GPA (got an A the second time). You know your high school classes will be crazy.
  • Take a practice SAT 
  • Read recommended classical literature.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 6, 2016

You Know You’re a Plebe Parent if…

From one of the many USNA parent networks. It all starts with a sense of humoraerial campus

You Know You’re a PLEBE PARENT When…

  • you somehow work into every conversation that your child is a Midshipman at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
  • you find any excuse to break out that picture of your Plebe taken during PPW in their Summer Whites and show it to everyone you know, and even to people you don’t know!
  • You rush home from work each day to check the USNA-Net Photo Gallery and the Dropshots website for pictures of your Plebe.
  • you buy blue and gold sugar to decorate your Christmas cookies…and don’t understand why others buy green and red.
  • your other children groan, roll their eyes at you and say, “You’re Obsessed!”
  • you know that the “Yard” is not that unmowed patch of grass that surrounds your house.
  • you actually know the words to “Anchors Aweigh”
  • you skip your neighbor’s wedding to wait for that all too fast, once a week, 5 minute phone call — and then he doesn’t call til the next day!
  • you are on a first name basis with the local Post Office staff.
  • you can’t get dressed without at least one item from the Mid Store.
  • you feel guilty enjoying air conditioning during Plebe Summer and beyond. Read More…
Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 4, 2016

Happy July 4th!

It’s America’s birthday and I’m celebrating. My son’s preparing to go overseas with the Army and my daughter’s at Ft. Meade Maryland, doing her Navy thing. I’m here, thanking both of them and every other service member who accepted the calling to protect our nation’s freedoms.

God be with all of you.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topicsCurrently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers this summer.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 1, 2016

Plebe Summer Care Packages: What to Send

Parents: Your Mid is permitted to receive packages of “Goodies” from home as often as you care to send them.  It is best to keep them on the small side (standard shoebox size) and send them more often.

We (past Plebe Summer parents) suggest the following items for almost any Mid…

For Plebe Summer…     No junk food !

  • Power Bars, Granola Bars, Dried Fruit
  • Water-packed Tuna (Pop-tops only)
  • Small Cans of Fruit or Applesauce (Pop-tops only)
  • Cup-o-Soup, Beef Jerky
  • Juice boxes
  • Rolls of quarters for the vending machines
  • Mole skin for blisters
  • Duct Tape (just because)
  • Bandages
  • Spray sunscreen
  • A Bar of their Favorite Soap
  • A small AMERICAN FLAG (4″ x 6″ with a small display stand)
  • Cleaning Supplies–White School Chalk to cover marks on White Uniforms
    Shout Wipes for stains, White-Out for quick toudh up on shoes
    Febreze (very important for Plebe Summer) Read More…

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