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Remembering our Legacy:

Our History of Events, from the Museum and Archives

1850 – Oak Ridge Male Institute was conceived on April 7th by 43 local citizens who, being desirous of promoting the cause of education, contributed a total of $629 and appointed five trustees to bring the Institute to fruition.

1852 – The founding year of Oak Ridge Male Institute. Within two years the name was changed to Oak Ridge Institute and females were admitted. Girls attended Oak Ridge Institute until 1929.

1861-1866 – The school was closed because of the Civil War. Scores of eligible aged students (probably about 100) enlisted or were conscripted into Southern units. (These units included the Guilford Guards, Stonewall Boys, Wilkes Guards, 11th Regiment of N.C. Volunteers, Madison Greys, Confederate Guards, Troublesome Boys, Guilford Men, 21st Regiment, 57th Regiment, 48th Regiment, 22nd Regiment, 45th Regiment, 29th Regiment, and many other regiments of N.C. troops).

1875 – 1914 – John Allen Holt and his brother Martin Hicks Holt, operated the school. The Chapel & Holt Hall are constructed, and was said to be the “finest school structure” in the state of North Carolina.

1895 – George Stephens, an 1891 graduate of Oak Ridge Institute, is credited with having caught the first forward pass thrown in football in a game between UNC and Georgia. In the crowd was John W. Heisman, who later relayed the incident to Walter Camp (the “Father of American Football”).

1914 – Professor Thomas E. Whitaker becomes President of Oak Ridge Institute. After the devastating fire that destroyed the main schoolhouse and the Chapel on January 14, 1914, Mr. Whitaker rebuilds Oak Ridge out of the ashes and into a military academy. During his 15 year administration the following buildings were constructed – Alumni Hall, Linville Chapel, King Gymnasium, as well as Holt, Brooks and Whitaker Hall Dormitories.

1917 – The school became military and the boys uniformed under the supervision of the War Department. The school trained and graduated men who served in World War I.

1919 – George Parrott, a 1905 graduate of Oak Ridge Institute, was an officer in the US Navy during World War I. A recipient of the Navy Cross, he was killed during the accidental collision between the USN Shaw (DD-68) and the British transport, HMS Aquitania, on October 9, 1918. On July 23, 1919, George Parrott was honored by his naming on the Clemson-class destroyer, USS Parrott (DD-218), which later saw significant service during World War II.

1926 – Oak Ridge was designated a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit.

1929 – The name was changed to Oak Ridge Military Institute and limited to males only.

1932 – A two-year junior college was established and continued until 1966.

1946 – A monument on campus and various tributes memorialized the 42 ORMI alumni who lost their lives in World War II. During the Second World War, 127 of the academy’s alumni were awarded a Purple Heart during the conflict, while another 27 alumni earned the Silver Star.

1952 – Hollywood film legend Ava Gardner makes a surprise visit to campus to see her nephew, Cadet Robert S. Creech, Class of 1953.

1971 – Girls were admitted again and the name was changed to Oak Ridge Academy.

1975 – Keith Cokely, a 1975 graduate of Oak Ridge Academy, becomes the first African-American Cadet to hold the position of Battalion Commander and Commander of the Corps of Cadets.

1981 – The name changed again to its present name, Oak Ridge Military Academy. Both boys and girls are now uniformed.

1988 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. attends Oak Ridge Military Academy.

1991 – Oak Ridge was named the “Official Military Academy of North Carolina” by the State Legislature.

1992 – Jennifer Childers, a 1992 graduate of Oak Ridge Military Academy, becomes the first female Cadet to hold the position of Battalion Commander and Commander of the Corps of Cadets.

1995 – Nancy Mellette, a 1996 graduate, submits her application for admission into The Citadel and attempts to enter the Military College of South Carolina as one of its first female cadets. Nancy’s plight for enrollment brings positive public attention nationally to herself and ORMA, featuring articles in People Magazine (click here for article) and culminating with a cover story by NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

1996 – Oak Ridge Military Academy Drill Team (The Lady Cadet’s), an all female drill team, won the National Drill Team Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. Coached by Carl T. Lloyd.

2002 – The Academy celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary.

2002 – Academy builds the largest building on campus. 33,000+ square foot, three level Academic building.


This place is more than a school.

It's a character-builder, a confidence-builder, a future-builder.

Monica, parent

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