Archive for the ‘USNA or Bust’ Category

20+ Books That Will Make You Sound Like an Intellect

20 Apr

pre-usna readingPerception is greater than reality. Give the impression to anyone paying attention that you are intellectual, even before you’re old enough to be one, and it becomes their reality about you. How do you do this if all you’ve got is a brief conversation?

Read the classics. I don’t mean Euripides or Voltaire, well, not only them. I mean the books that people quote, talk about, bring up in educated conversations and assume you have read. As you get ready for summer, here’s a starter list, compiled by teachers across the country:

  1. Shakespeare–pretty much anything he wrote, but Macbeth and Hamlet are a good start. In one study, 71% of people listed these two as must-reads for the well-rounded individual
  2. Any of the defining documents in US history–the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 50% of people in the same study said these were critical.
  3. Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer–something by Mark Twain
  4. the Bible
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  7. Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card
  8. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn The quickest of Solzhenitsyn’s books, but Cancer Ward or any other is good, too.
  9. The Prince by Machiavelli (how else can you understand the term ‘Machiavellian’?)
  10. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov This and Solzhenitsyn are required to understand Russian culture.
  11. The Iliad or The Odyssey by Homer Our very concept of ‘odyssey’ comes from the latter, and there is no better account of the ever-popular Trojan War than the former.
  12. Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (think how often you’ve heard the analogy–It’s a tale of two ***)
  13. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (learn how tenuous is the fabric of western civilization)
  14. The Red Badge of Courage It will not take too many days in the ‘real world’ for your students to gain their own red badge of courage.
  15. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  16. The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. Students will want a label for what happens when they are judged and found lacking by small-minded people
  17. Plato’s Republic, one of the most influential works of philosophy and political theory
  18. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, rudimentary to American independence by focusing anger in a logical, well-reasoned manner
  19. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne There are more Pooh-isms in this book that will aptly describe your feelings, thoughts, worries, than in any book I’ve ever read.
  20. Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling (It’s a poem, but a must-read if for no other reason than the quote, ‘You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din’)
  21. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  22. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  23. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx A brilliant book about an ideal economic system that unfortunately doesn’t survive the harsh light of day or the realities of man’s selfish spirit.

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A Soldier’s Christmas

18 Dec

Part of joining the military is placing yourself second to America. Her needs exceed yours. This Holiday Season, many of our own friends and family won’t be home in the warmth of family events. Watch these videos. Remember them…

–Photo credit:

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 the author of hundreds of tech-in-ed resources, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author



N* Football: USNA vs. ND

09 Oct

October 10th… Be ready with your blue and gold!

USNA does what’s called ‘Spirit Spots’ in support of their Big Games (Notre Dame, Army–that sort). These are quick videos that display their enthusiasm, commitment and fun-loving attitude. Here are some favorites for USNA vs. ND, Army, Air Force and others:


Here’s a whole playlist, in case you’re having a USNA vs. ND party:


D-Day — 1944

06 Jun

Today (6/6/14) marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day, June 6, 1944

Today in 1944 on D-Day, more than 2,700 ships and craft landed troops on Normandy beaches, the largest amphibious landing in history.

Here are some D-Day FAQ’s from the Navy:


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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 and, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer.


Happy Memorial Day!

26 May

I’m out back, by the grilling, turning hamburgers, corn, and whatever else can be grilled. Can you smell it? Yum!

I’m taking the day to honor our soldiers. Without their sacrifice, where would we be? Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: Building a Midshipman

28 Apr

Building a Midshipman (Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the United States Naval Academy Application) Building a Midshipman

by Jacqui Murray

Available: Amazon

You don’t have to be a miracle-worker to the 10% of applicants accepted to a military academy, but you do need a plan. For the thousands of students who apply every year–and slog through the numbing concatenation of decisions preceding a nomination–there is no greater discouragement than the likely event that they will fail. This, though, is the Board’s peek into an applicant’s moral fiber and an important ingredient to the go/no go decision.

In the words of James Stockdale, USNA ’46 and Medal of Honor Winner: “The test of character is not ‘hanging in there’ when you expect a light at the end of the tunnel, but performance of duty and persistence of example when you know that no light is coming.”

This is the true story of Maggie Schmidt, an All-American kid who dreamt of attending the Naval Academy when her research into the typical Midshipman uncovered a profile alarmingly like herself. This book describes her background and academic interests, her focus, as well as her struggle to put together a winning admissions package. Along the way, you gain insight into the moral fiber that grounds everything she does and the decisions she must make that some consider impossible for an adolescent, but are achievable for thousands of like-minded teens. This workbook walks you through the long process, provides check lists of everything required, decision making matrices, goal-setting exercises to determine if USNA is a good fit for you, and a mix of motivation and academic advice to balance a decision that rightfully might be the biggest one most teens have ever made.

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Valentines from USNA–the Love Formula

13 Feb

This could only come from Midshipmen, I love these guys:

USNA valentine day


Want to Fly a Spitfire?

21 Nov

Amazing video…


Jacqui Murray is the author of 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, CSG Master Teacher, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and ebooks on technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Today We Honor Veterans

11 Nov

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


What’s a Candidate Weekend Visit?

30 Oct

Please accept my personal invitation to spend a weekend visiting the U. S. Naval Academy and historic Annapolis.rankstripes This visit program is offered only to a select group of candidates.”

One day, you get home from school, rush to the mailbox to see if your USNA acceptance letter is there–and find this instead. You are fully qualified to be a Midshipman, just waiting to see if you’re competitive among the pool of applicants. This should be your acceptance, but instead is an offer to spend a weekend as a Mid–two days with a Plebe, observing academic classes, physical exercise, and all daily activities. Can you survive Calculus and Chemistry (the Plebe killer)? Are Mids friendly? Will they give you the low-down on Academy life?. Mentally, you’re already at USNA. You’ve committed yourself to four years, and then five more years serving your country. Why do you need this?

When you look into it more, you realize it’s a good idea–for you and them. You get to find out first hand if the Mid life is right for you, and they get the same. With the price of educating a Midshipman approaching a quarter million dollars, they don’t want to make mistakes.

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