My military school mending

By David Pacholick
September 10, 2019


Military school was a place to learn about structure and discipline. Throughout my two years at Valley Forge Military Academy I wore many symbols of duty, honor, and importance. Starting out freshman year of high school, however, I had nothing but hard work ahead of me. 

On August 19th, 2014, my parents dropped me off to what would be the worst 10 weeks of my life. This was called the Plebe System, a 10-week program where I would go through drills and routines to prepare me for campus life. Aside from physical activity drills and marching drills, Valley Forge was steering me into a direction of success and discipline with me kicking and screaming all the way. 

A meeting during of the Plebe System.

Photo Taken By Mike Pacholick.

Despite starting out in a hard place at Valley Forge I learned to adapt to campus life fast so I couldn’t fall behind. The best way to keep me out of trouble this way was to find a way to prove myself useful to my superiors. So at 14 years old, I found a volunteer opportunity to work for the school in the long-forgotten Audio-Visual Department. In the Audio-Visual Department, I learned basic technical skills on how to fix and work all kinds of equipment, and at 14 I was putting in over 30 hours a week after school with no pay. 

Sometime after my 15th birthday and my fourth roommate of the year, I was kicked out of Valley Forge. All because of an incident that happened with my roommate. At the time, he was abusing an over-the-counter concoction of medications nicknamed Triple C’s. The ingredients to Triple C’s that included a large portion of the cold medication Coricidin HBP Cough & Cold, that contains a hallucinogenic ingredient called dextromethorphan. 

2015 Spring Parade.

Photo Taken By Mike Pacholick.

As it turns out my roommate had done this before many times without me knowing about it, and the hallucinogenic in Triple C’s often causes intense paranoia. Due to the weeks of drug abuse before the incident and the paranoia, my roommate was sharpening a nail file under his desk for weeks, and in November I was stabbed. 

The situation played out like any night between my roommate and myself, but I felt something was off. A few minutes into the night he started rambling about how we have too many people in the hallway. I told him to shut up because I was doing homework and proceeded to but headphones on to try and focus. 

My roommate did not like that response. What happened next I can only assume because I could not see. As it plays out in my head, he took that as a threat and went to his desk to grab his sharpened nail file, turns around and stabbed me between my left shoulder blade and my spine. Not feeling anything for the first few seconds but a wet spot on my shirt, I took my headphones off and turned around to see a bloody, shiny, nail file in his hand. 

Without thinking I grab his head and slam it into the side of the bunk bed assuming I broke his nose from the way he screamed in pain. Although the scuffle took no more than ten minutes, a cadet staff sergeant opened our door to the worst thing he has probably caught a cadet doing. 

I was escorted to the campus health center and my roommate’s location was unknown to me. I assume he went to the hospital because of the sirens I heard on campus that night. After getting a few tetanus shots I did not feel all that bad, but I had to be moved out of the building. 

No one actually witnessed the incident between my roommate and me, so a few weeks went by and the school asked me to leave or they would kick me out by force because I was seen as a danger to others, but they all knew what really happened. 

I bounced around from one high school to another sophomore and junior year. At the end of my junior year, I got a call from Valley Forge in the middle of an English class. I stepped out of the class to take the call and heard an unfamiliar voice. As it turns out a new president of the school asked me to come back to Valley Forge after he reviewed the file and put into consideration all the work I did. 

I accepted the offer and came back to what was the best year of my high school career. With no formal boot camp style training, I established a cadet-run medical program as well as become the head of the cadet audiovisual program. I ended the year graduating as the second-highest rank of my class, setting an example for all the new cadets of that year. Honestly, if I could, I would do it all again. 

Receiving my diploma.

Photo Taken By Mike Pacholick.

David Pacholick

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