Florida Military School opened its doors to 63 cadets. Colonel Carl Ward, with founding partners Arthur Seascholz and Willard K. Beman, started the school in a converted World War II Infirmary at the former DeLand Naval Air Station.
The Mess Hall was in the old Officers Club, which later became the Canteen (the Joe C. Long Building). During the second semester they moved into the Naval Air Station’s Bachelor Officers Quarters that was later named Howard Hall.
At Christmas break, Seascholz and Beman left the school, and Carl C. Schaefer, Sr., a trucking company executive from Dayton, Ohio, bought into the corporation and was given the title of Vice President (to Colonel Ward’s President and Headmaster). He maintained a partnership interest in the school until about 1961.
In the beginning, the school offered flight training for the cadets but that was not offered in subsequent years after the death of a cadet pilot, Donald Thompson, who crashed while on his first solo flight.
In sports, FMS fielded basketball, baseball, and track teams. The cadet corps was under the command of Cadet William V. Howard. Company B was named Honor Company of the year.
There were five graduating seniors the first year whose names would be remembered by all Cadets who followed. The major buildings on campus were named in their honor.
The second year of the school (1957-58) saw a fourfold increase in attendance, with more than 260 cadets beginning the year and expanding into two dormitories, known as Howard and Alleyne Halls. The school’s administration was housed in the David G. Cannon Building. 1957 brought the beginning of the football program to the school under the tutelage of head coach Earl Looman.
The year also marked the introduction of the cavalry unit, which participated in the Sunday Dress Parades of the Cadet Corps.
There were twenty-one graduates in 1958, with the total number of cadets being about 260. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Lawrence R. Foster. Company C was named Honor Company of the year.
The year marked the arrival of Major Joseph Siekanic as Commandant of Cadets, Captain William C. Prentiss as an instructor in Civics and English, and Captain William T. Bradford as the first Professor of Military Science and Tactics, and assistant football coach.
The school gained accreditation from the State of Florida Department of Education and was designated by the US Army as an Honor National Defense Cadet Corps School during its second year of operation. Full accreditation on the regional and national level by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools followed in December, 1961.
The first yearbook, “The Knight,” was dedicated to Mrs. Mary Ward.
The third year of the school saw the completion of a new mess hall, which was named the Carl C. Schaefer, Sr. Building. Later, after Mr. Schaefer ended his business relationship with the school, the building was renamed for Kenneth W. Hewitt, one of the first-year graduates. Cadets participated in the construction of the new building.
There were twenty-three graduates in 1959, with a total of 226 cadets listed in the yearbook. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Dennis J. Eyre. Company D was named Honor Company of the year.
The year also brought the arrival of head football coach Captain Thomas Sperling, and Captains Dinkins and Pendarvis as faculty members. Captain Prentiss became Commandant of Cadets with a promotion to Major.
In February, the Florida Military School band played the Star Spangled Banner at the first running of the Daytona 500 at the new Daytona Speedway. It was reported that “merely” 41,000 people were in attendance.
The high point of the year for the senior class was a trip to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras, under the somewhat watchful eyes of Captains Whitler and Pendarvis. In addition to the party time of Mardi Gras, the trip brought the class together in bonds of friendship and camaraderie that had not previously been experienced.
The 1959 Knight was dedicated to the coaches: Bradford, Evans, Pendarvis, Prentiss, and Sperling.
The year brought further growth to the school. There were 42 seniors listed in the 1960 yearbook, with the total number of cadets being 294. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Walter L. Preston. Company B was named Honor Company of the year.
1960 saw Major Prentiss become Director (later Dean) of Education, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Major Robert L. Moore as Commandant, and the arrival of Captain, later Major, Carl Steely as the Professor of Military Science and Tactics.
The 1960 Senior Trip was to also to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, with Major Steely in attendance. The cadets participated in one of the Mardi Gras parades.
The 1960 Knight was dedicated to Lt. Col. William C. Prentiss
The school year saw the opening of the new swimming pool on campus, and the start of a competitive swim team for the school. The senior class numbered 37, with 289 total cadets listed in the yearbook. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Geoffrey Gentil. Company A was named Honor Company of the year.
The new mess hall served as a shelter for the cadet corps when Hurricane Donna crossed Florida in early September, 1960. School buses were positioned to block the wind from the glass front of the building.
It was noted in the yearbook that the FMS football team beat Admiral Farragut Academy in the annual “Junior Army-Navy Game” by a score of 28-0.
The 1961 Knight was dedicated to Colonel Carl Ward.
n September of 1961, Florida Military College began operation. The college program operated through May, 1965. The Yearbook identified the new college class as the “Class of 1965”, which may have indicated a plan at that time for a four year college to be established. If so, that goal was not realized; it became, and remained, a two-year college during its existence.
The high school senior class numbered 51, with 277 cadets listed in the yearbook, plus 34 in the college program. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Peter A. Still. The Honor Company of the year was Band Company.
The year saw Captain Pendarvis become Assistant Commandant with a promotion to Major.
1961 was the last year of interscholastic football, with teams being fielded at both the high school and college levels.
The 1962 Knight was dedicated to Mary Ward’s sister, Marcene Evans, who managed the dining hall throughout the school’s existence.
The senior class numbered 52, with 258 cadets listed in the yearbook, plus 36 in the college. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Joseph Leer. Company B was named Honor Company of the year.
There were 5 sixth-year men: John Barry, Thomas Bokor, Joseph Leer, William Edmondson, and David Tooker. A highlight of the year was the visit to the campus of the Vienna Boys Choir. Another was the 1963 Senior Class Trip to Washington, DC.
The Yearbook was dedicated to Major Carl V. Steely, who had become Commandant that year with the departure of Major Moore. Major Pendarvis remained Assistant Commandant, in charge of the junior high school cadets.
The senior class of 1964 numbered 56, with 291 cadets listed in the yearbook, plus 28 in the college. There were 2 sixth year men: John Venable and Mike Costello. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Venable. Company C was named Honor Company of the year.
1963 saw the return of its first FMS graduate to become a member of the faculty: Jerry Alleyne, Class of 1957.
The 1964 Knight was dedicated to Major James William Pendarvis.
The senior class numbered 63, with 249 cadets listed in the yearbook, plus 29 in the college. There were 4 sixth year men: Wayne Arnold, Don Campbell, Bruce Palmisano, and Donald Rounds. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Palmisano. Company D was named Honor Company of the year.
The year brought the arrival of Lt. Col. Rex T. Henry as the Professor of Military Science and Tactics and Lt. Col. Donald G. Williams as the Commandant of the College — a one year appointment as this was the last year of the college operation.
The Florida Military School Band continued it’s tradition of performing before dignitaries, when they performed for President Lyndon B. Johnson in Orlando, where he was giving a speech. Some cadets were privileged to meet the President.
The Senior and Junior National Honor Societies were installed on campus on February 11,
1965.The 1965 Knight was dedicated to Captain Chaplin A. Dinkins.
The senior class numbered 49, with 243 cadets listed in the yearbook. There were 2 sixth year men: James Gaberle and Robert Mouro. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Chris Bolton. Company B was named Honor Company of the year.
The year brought the introduction of the Interact Club, the school’s first service club, sponsored by the DeLand Rotary Club. Members were elected on the basis of service, leadership, and interest in their fellow cadets.
The 1966 Knight was dedicated to the memory of Mr. Howard C. Snyder, the father of Mrs. Mary Ward and Mrs. Marcene Evans, who served for a time on the staff and was cited as a true friend of the school.
The senior class numbered 39, with 251 cadets listed in the yearbook. There was one sixth-year man: Steve Kinsell. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Kinsell. Company B was named Honor Company of the year.
Major Pendarvis became the new Commandant of Cadets, replacing Major Steely who left to join the staff of Culver Military Academy in Indiana. Captain Dinkins became the new Assistant Commandant with a promotion to Major.
The 1967 Knight was dedicated to Lt. Col. Rex T. Henry.
The senior class numbered 29, with 200 cadets listed in the yearbook. There was one sixth year man: Tim Tyndall. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet David Moroz. Company C was named Honor Company of the year.
The 1968 Knight was dedicated to Sergeant First Class William W. Douglas for his contributions to the development of the school’s military program as an honor rated ROTC school.
For this year only, the dress uniform was replaced by the standard green army uniform indicating the Jr. ROTC designation of the school. No one was happy with the change.
The year signaled the arrival of two new service clubs — the Key Club (sponsored by Kiwanis) and the Hi–Y (sponsored by YMCA).
The senior class numbered 26, with 196 cadets listed in the yearbook. There were 2 sixth year men: George Graham and George Knight. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Graham. Company C was named Honor Company of the year.
That year, the Cadet Corps returned to the distinctive West Point style uniform (thank goodness).
Lt. Col. Rex T. Henry became Commandant, with the departure of Majors Pendarvis and Dinkins.
The 1969 Knight was dedicated to Evelyn Doyle, the School Nurse.
In the 1969-70 year, girls attended FMS for the first time. All were from DeLand and were day students. It was done to provide additional income as enrollment was slipping lower each year. One cadet reported: “It meant we could actually have some real cheerleaders at basketball games. Also that year the team actually WON some games — about half wins – half losses as I recollect. Maybe it was the female energy.”
The senior class numbered 26, with 192 cadets listed in the yearbook, including 13 coeds and 12 male cadet day students. There were no sixth year men noted. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Charles Kuharske.
The 1970 Knight was dedicated to Mrs. Frances B. Miller, citing her 14 years of service to the school as teacher and guidance counselor.
The senior class numbered 20, with 153 cadets listed in the yearbook, including 18 coeds, plus 46 students in grades 1-6 in a non-military elementary school. There was one sixth-year man: James Hyer. The cadet corps was under the leadership of Cadet Lee Rackley
<h3>A highlight of the year was that the Rifle Team won the National U.S. Championship.</h3>
The 1971 Knight was dedicated to Dr. Loren A. Dunton, school doctor for 15 years.
The school was closed in October 1971, a victim of the anti-military feeling resulting from the war in Vietnam. The decrease in cadet enrollment made it financially impossible to maintain the school. FMS thus became one of the more than two-thirds of the nation’s military academies to close its doors during those turbulent times.
So, for 15 years, Florida Military School operated as an accredited National Honor School with the motto of Honor, Wisdom, and Self-Discipline. The school’s literature stated that FMS was dedicated to achieving in its cadets the finest possible mental, spiritual, and physical development; through three phases of cadet life: academic, military, and athletic. It reported that the environment of Florida Military School was one of fellowship, academic thoroughness, and strict military discipline.
The program was designed to make it possible for every cadet to become solidly prepared for college and for life itself. Most former cadets, whether they loved it or hated it (or maybe a little of both), agree that the experience was significant in their lives. Boys became young men. The girls who attended later became young women. Some went on to serve their Country and some died in service to their Country.
We became, at some point, adults engaged in trades and professions. Most became parents. Some of those parents secretly (or not so secretly) wished there was an FMS for their sons and daughters. Many are now grandparents, uncles, or aunts and have small boxes stored away with momentos of a slice in time long ago when the early morning and late evening stillness echoed with the notes of a bugle, sounding the beginning and the end of our day. In our dreams we sometimes hear the gutteral bark of commands across a parade field, the rattle of drums, the snap of rifles brought to shoulder, the flash of polished metal in the sun; we see faces of friends who will be forever young, and remember.