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Cadet Pessaud at Fork Union Military Academy Qualifies for National Debate Meet

Cadet William Humphrey Pessaud

Fork Union, VAFork Union Military Academy announces that Cadet William Humphrey Pessaud earned a third place finish in the Student Congress category at the Virginia Catholic Forensics League (VCFL) state debate tournament held at Eastern View High School in Culpeper County, Virginia on March 11, 2017. His finish in the top three qualifies him to move on to compete in the  national tournament sponsored by the National Catholic Forensics League (NCFL) to be held Memorial Day weekend in Louisville, Kentucky. At the state tournament, his third place finish, along with first- and fourth-place respective finishes by fellow cadets Michael Head and Joshua Henriques, helped propel the Fork Union Military Academy debate team to a first place finish in the Student Congress category and a third-place overall team finish at the state meet.

The Student Congress category is run much like the House or Senate chamber, wherein students debate bills submitted by each school on specific current events topics identified by the VCFL. Two sessions of legislative debate lasting two hours each are completed at each meet. Over the course of the two sessions, Cadet Pessaud delivered speeches on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, dissolution of the Department of Education, and the One-China Policy.

Pessaud’s success, despite being a first-year member of the team, should not come as a surprise, says Fork Union Military Academy debate coach, Mike Goad. “This young man reads de Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’ during his free time,” Goad explains. “He was actually reading it between the first and second session during lunch at the state meet. He actively follows and studies the American system of government and is passionate about his views, but more importantly, he knows how to debate those views objectively, with sound research and statistics.”

Team points are accumulated in three debate categories: Student Congress, Public Forum, and Lincoln-Douglas. Fork Union had cadets competing in only two of the three categories: Student Congress and Public Forum. The three schools accumulating the most individual points in these three categories get to take home a sweepstakes trophy from the state tournament.

“Our goal this year was to ‘trophy’ at states,” said Goad. “We wanted to bring home the hardware. The schools we compete against have much larger student bodies, making it easier for them to disperse talented students in all three categories of debate, so we knew it would be a difficult task. Our chances to ‘trophy’ were contingent on having at least three cadets place in the top-six of Student Congress, as the top-six finishers accrue overall points for the team. William’s third-place finish played a major role in our team capturing third-place overall in the meet and bringing home one of those trophies,” said Goad.

“I am thankful that all of the hard work the team put in paid off,” said Cadet Pessaud following his tournament success, “and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

On William returning to the team next year, coach Goad stated, “I am very excited to see how William’s success at states rolls over into next year. He will have some strong competition from fellow cadets, but there is no reason that he cannot bring home an individual state title next year. I am sure by this point next year, he will have read a few hundred more books, which can only bode well for our team.”

Cadet Pessaud, a junior, is the son of Mary Jane Pessaud of Alexandria, Virginia. He has attended Fork Union Military Academy since August 2014 when he enrolled as a freshman.


Fork Union Military Academy is nationally-recognized for its unique One Subject Plan curriculum, followed at the school since 1950. Under the One Subject Plan, instead of students taking four to six classes every day, students take just one subject at a time. The year is divided into five grading periods of about seven weeks each. Each grading period, the student takes one class, such as English or Algebra or Biology. He is with that one teacher all day, every day, for those seven weeks. In a typical school system, a teacher may be responsible for teaching as many as 80 to 150 different students every day in several different classes. At Fork Union Military Academy, a teacher has only one classroom of about ten to seventeen students each day, every day, for seven weeks. Teachers get to know students as individuals, and students get to concentrate fully on each subject. This is believed to be one of the key factors in Fork Union Military Academy achieving a 100% college acceptance rate for seniors, and maintaining a sizable honor roll of students earning academic honors each grading period.

Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Virginia, is a college preparatory military boarding school for young men in Grades 7 through 12 and postgraduates. Affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia and open to those of all religious denominations, Fork Union was founded in 1898 and has a rich tradition promoting character, leadership, and scholarship.

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