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BFI: The Boys March On

Sam Trammell '22

The anticipation in the air is palpable as each company waits their turn outside of Holtz Gymnasium to be inspected by a group of Marines. They march in, stand at attention, and have every detail of their uniform inspected by the military men and women. After this nerve-wracking ordeal, they go back to their platoon rooms, happily chatting through their black uniform masks.

This occasion may seem alien and bizarre to an outside observer: a mass of high school students being mercilessly scrutinized for a half-hour by trained service people. For the Cadets, though, it is just another Brigade Formal Inspection, or BFI.

The tradition of military inspection and review dates back to Ancient Rome. It was used as a way to unify soldiers and train them to fight as a unit. It also served to uphold high standards of respect, discipline, and excellence. Today at Saint Thomas Academy, it is used for the same reason. The Brigade Formal Inspection, typically held in early April, is the culmination of the training, inspection, and drilling conducted by the Cadets throughout the school year. It puts on full display the hard work that the Cadets demonstrate through the preparation of their uniforms, the practicing of the marches and steps, and the memorization of the Basic Cadet Knowledge. It also represents the Academy as a whole and epitomizes its dedication to developing its students into men of character.

Last year, due to the Coronavirus-19 pandemic, BFI was cancelled. This was a major loss for the community, the school itself, and especially the students, who were unable to show off their hard work. With the introduction of restricted in-person learning, the question of whether BFI would be able to meet the standards and expectations of previous years was at the forefront of everybody’s minds.

At 11:25 AM, the Cadet key personnel filed into Sjoberg-Flynn Arena to perform a military review for the marines. Their uniforms were sharp, clean, and pressed, their faces shaven and their hair cut. There was an air of confidence and poise as the shouted commands were quickly and efficiently executed. The officers yelled, the band played, and the colors were presented with such precision that was befitting of any other normal year. At the end of the review, when the students were filing out of the gym, it was clear to all observing that it had been an exceptional ceremony. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the cadets were able to rise to the challenge of an unorthodox school year and leave better than before. The Cadets marched out of the gym and into the future.

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