As a parent, one of the hardest things to endure is watching your child struggle and not know how to fix it. Charles Derek Marcellus Campbell, II aka “Chaz” was born in August of 2005 in Camp Springs, MD at Andrews Air Force Base, during Hurricane Katrina to be exact. Chaz began school at the age of 4 at Woodstream Christian Academy in Mitchellviille, MD, and absolutely hated it. If you ask him, he will probably tell you it was quite infamous. Every year thereafter was a battle. Hated waking up, hated getting dressed, hated going to school period. It wasn’t until the end of his freshman year where deeper discussions on what we could do to get him engaged in his educational future did FUMA pop up. Our boy was failing practically every class he was in, and we couldn’t help but feel how we had failed him too. Chaz had shuffled from one public school to another, just lost in the sea of overcrowded classrooms. We became aware of FUMA through a friend and colleague who attended the Air Force Academy, Dirk Armbrust. Mr. Armbrust attended FUMA back in the mid-80’s and would always talk about how his experiences there positively impacted his life. As we looked for an opportunity for Chaz, we talked with Dirk about FUMA, and he was adamant that we should give FUMA serious consideration.
The Campbell Family is a party of five, where Chaz has two older extremely protective sisters. So, when the family discussions encompassed sending their little brother two hours away to a military academy, as a boarding student at that, it created quite an uproar. As a mother, how could I send my son to live outside of the home? He had never been away from family. Ever! And this is what we’re doing? Absolutely not. What if he gets lonely? What if he needs us? And most importantly, what if he isn’t happy?! All these questions were thrown around, amongst the many arguments of how and why Chaz was not attending this school. Fortunately, the tone of the arguments began to change once we attended an Open House. We immediately began to get the feeling that FUMA would be a great fit for him, particularly because of the academic, athletic, and military mix.
A huge factor for us in choosing FUMA was of course the academic regimen that the school has in place: The One Subject Program. The One Subject Program has worked wonders for Chaz. When he was in public school in Northern Virginia, he was not motivated to thrive in the academic system. In fact, he considered himself a below average student and was not motivated to excel beyond that. When Chaz learned of the One Subject program at FUMA, it became (for him) the main reason that he would consider attending. Once school started, Chaz very early on started to appreciate that he was able to go both wide and deep on the subject matter that he was studying. He felt that he was given a chance to be immersed in his work, ask questions, and learn about a particular subject he had no interest in prior to FUMA. Consequently, he is excelling in the One Subject Program format and was on the President’s List for the 2020-2021 School Year (10th Grade) with a 4.0 GPA. He is on track to repeat his academic success from 10th grade and currently has a 4.0 GPA for the 2021-2022 School Year. Not bad for a kid who started out with a less than 2.0 GPA.
Another major attraction for us was the chance for Chaz to unlock his leadership potential. The fact that he could be directly challenged in this arena, while under the tutelage of seasoned leadership professionals was extremely appealing. Fast-forward to the 2021-2022 School Year, Chaz has completely thrived with this opportunity. Leading amongst one’s peers presents some interesting challenges, but we have found that the Leadership Training that Chaz gets from his senior leaders and Tac Officer have assisted him in overcoming any leadership obstacles he has faced. Chaz has a desire to attend the United States Naval Academy (USNA) after high school, and we believe the leadership skills he is gaining at FUMA will make him an excellent candidate to become a USNA Midshipman.
Athletically, we were drawn to the opportunities that Chaz would be presented with. Chaz played Rugby from 3rd through 9th Grade, and while FUMA does not have a rugby team he was on the Rifle Shooting Team and has had an introduction to the Wrestling team. He has also been afforded an opportunity to be certified as a Lifeguard. These sporting experiences have done wonders for Chaz as he becomes a well-rounded and multi-disciplined student.
Chaz is a product of Marine parents; we are pleased with the military structure of FUMA. This structure was another key driver. Chaz has always had a particular desire to become a Military Officer when he gets older, and we are elated that FUMA has a vaunted history of embracing and teaching the core values of what a young man could possibly experience as a military professional. Although the military aspect of FUMA is just one component of the school, Chaz has fully embraced this aspect of the Academy and is thriving in all areas of his high school life because of this construct. He has a camaraderie with his student peers fostering the groundwork for life-long friendships. Because of FUMA, Chaz is able to establish interactions with students from different age groups, different areas of the United States, and from different locations around the world. He is flourishing in the diversity of the FUMA environment.
The list of reasons why we have chosen FUMA for Chaz can go on and on. So much so that he has two cousins that are attending as well- Cadet Sebastian Quinteros (12th Grade) and Cadet Calieb Collazo (10th grade) who are also succeeding. FUMA has truly become a “Family Affair” for us.
Fork Union Military Academy is not a place where you want to be but a place you want to be from. As a parent, we strive to afford and provide every opportunity we can for our children to succeed in life. We do our very best to guide and advise them, and we need the partners in place to make that happen. And that is what FUMA is: a PARTNER in our son’s future. FUMA offers the environment for our son to learn, develop and enhance his natural born skillsets on a firm Christian foundation.
Our lives changed the day we dropped off our little boy as a boarding student. He matured immensely overnight and today he is a Cadet 2LT, Platoon Commander for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, and a member of the Retan Rifles. We are truly blessed to be a part of the FUMA family and can’t imagine Chaz being anywhere else.
Thank you for allowing us to share our story and our journey.
Colonel C. Derek Campbell
& Ms. Sabrina Campbell
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” - Proverbs 22:6
I had so many questions. How could we afford to send two boys to Fork Union? How could I let our babies live away from home at a boarding school before they were old enough for college? Would our sons do well in a military school environment?
Well, our boys have thrived at Fork Union. They are getting a great college prep education in one of the nation's best boarding schools.. And the life lessons they are learning at Fork Union Military Academy will serve them well for years to come.
Our son chose FUMA after touring several local private schools. Making a change from public to private school was something that we knew our son wanted and needed but I truly did not fully understand how much he would thrive at Fork Union.
The daily “How was your day?” question became one of the highlights of my day. My son enjoyed school for the first time in a long time and was thriving academically, socially, spiritually and athletically. In the evenings, on the ride home from school, he would share story after story about his daily interactions with cadets, teachers, coaches, teammates and his TAC Officer.
I asked him, "Why do you like FUMA?" He said, “Because of the freedom we have.”
This was not exactly the answer I expected to hear from a kid at a military school. I asked him to explain.
He said: “Mom, we have expectations and a lot of rules we have to follow but we aren’t sitting in a boring classroom all day long. We have chances to go outside, move around, and focus on what we are interested in. We can eat whatever and however much we would like from the dining hall (General Tso’s Chicken, the panini sandwiches, and funnel cakes are his favorites) we have break time after lunch to play a pick up game of basketball in the Estes Center or hang out with our friends before class. We can get extra help after class if we need it or get a jump start on homework before sports practice.
One of my favorite stories that reflects the above described freedom, occurred right after a big snow storm. My son told me, “Today was the best day ever. After lunch, we had a huge snowball fight and went sledding down hills during our break—it was so much fun!” (With a huge grin on his face)
I believe his description of “freedom” translates to a gratefulness that he still gets to be a kid, a boy, a teenager—but one with rules, accountability and expectations. A freedom that is not found in many schools these days.
A personal favorite story of mine is probably not one of his favorites. After basketball practice, my son walked into the Commandant’s office to sign out. It took him about five minutes to return. When he returned, he was winded. I told him, he was either getting sick or out of shape, there was no reason for him to be winded and breathing heavy from walking up a slight incline to my car. He said “Mom, I forgot to tuck my shirt in my basketball shorts and I had to do 50 burpees! My shirt won’t be untucked again!”
My son currently has the best grades he’s ever had in school but more importantly, he understands the content because he can be more focused with the smaller class sizes.
We are incredibly happy and grateful for the education and life skills that our son is receiving at FUMA. Fork Union is a school that understands boys and what they need to thrive.
Gabriel has always been a straight A student and member of the National Junior Honor Society who also enjoys playing basketball and loved the Lord. We watched him turned into video games near-addict during the pandemic, caring less about school. After searching, FUMA came top as a perfect place to meet his needs; academically, spiritually, and athletically as it did for my 2 nephews a few years back. We were in a dilemma & hesitated to send him though as I saw patients dying every day during the pandemic, but FUMA and it’s excellent staff surpassed expectations to ensure the cadets were safe while receiving in-person teachings.
So proud of him, he made it to the basketball team and maintained his grades finishing up 9th grade already completed 9 credit hours with a 4.3 GPA. Very impressive!!!
Only FUMA with One Subject Plan and in-person teaching can deliver such excellence in the middle of a pandemic. So thankful for the discipline and confidence that has been instilled in him. With God all things are possible. Kudos to all the cadets and staff of FUMA. God richly bless you all.
The Covid-19 pandemic was a bane and a blessing. When I had to oversee homeschooling, I got first-hand experience of the challenges my son and his teachers must have had for years.
Ever since I can remember, we dreaded parent-teacher meetings. We would hear, "Your son's grades don't match his ability or intelligence. He's very engaging and smart, but..." For our son, having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) means that he procrastinates, does not routinely complete tasks like homework or classwork, and frequently moves from one uncompleted activity to another. Some teachers in his regular high school understood this. Some did not. All of them could not make enough concessions or accommodations to show his true learning because of the constraints of the education system. At the end of the school year 2020, he failed most of his classes and looked at an even fuller load the next school year. We knew something had to change; he did too.
We enrolled him in Fork Union Military Academy. We chose it after seeing so many YouTube videos that touted the benefits of the one-subject program and the school. The promise of focus, structure, and accomplishment came through. He passed all his classes in this, his first year, a sophomore at FUMA. He would tell you he is most proud that he scored 100% on the finals of two of his classes. He would say that he did so because he studied hard and came prepared.
We took advantage of their academic success program. There he found continuous support and cheers! They found novel approaches to reach him, took the time to learn about him, and flexed their approaches. I have been concerned in the past about the ability of teachers who are not Black to 'see my son' as an individual. At FUMA, they know him, challenge him to be his best, hold him accountable, and motivate him.
I am proud of what he has done this year. As a testament to the place, he is looking forward to going back in the Fall - he's proud that he's earned a promotion in rank and knows he can do even better academically. Amazing.
As I reflect on the past year, I am thankful that the circumstances made me aware of what my son needed. I am happy that we found FUMA. My son is finally in an environment that rewards accomplishments in academics, sports, and character. I am proud that my son made the best of his opportunity, worked hard, and finally has a report card that reflects his ability and effort.
FUMA has been a blessing in many ways for my son. They have helped him become a leader and helped to turn his life around. His grades improved dramatically and he became an adult due to the guidance and teachings of faculty, coaches and staff. From that perspective it was the perfect place for him and I thank each and every one of the FUMA staff members for their help.
The youngest of 4 brothers, Lamar has accomplished everything a parent would like to see from their child. He accepted the challenge of Fork Union Military Academy without complaining, and emphatically met his parents expectations. I am very proud of this young man's performance over the past 4 years, and wish him all the blessings of a bright and successful future in college.
I am most proud of Lamar's perseverance over the past 4 years at FUMA. The rigors of this experience has molded him into a great young man and prepared him for the challenges ahead. I think what contributed most to his success was the love and care provided to him from siblings, his parents, and the friendships he gained while studying at FUMA. This cadet learned to be disciplined in his academic studies, and proficient in his critical thinking skills. I expect nothing but great things from this young man going forward, and the impact FUMA has made on him and on his family will be something we reflect on forever.
Thank you for making my son a better scholar, athlete, and human being.
Trevor has blossomed at Fork Union Military Academy. He has a new found confidence and self assurance that I attribute to the tremendous support, love, and encouragement he received during his time this year at the school. Trevor has made the honor roll and even Cadet of the Week. I can’t believe the difference in him. He has discovered an inclination for playing the trumpet and has developed his passion for fishing. His effort towards class work has increased drastically. I couldn’t be happier with the school and it’s staff. He is excited to return for his 8th grade year. FUMA has been a godsend for my son and our entire family. Sending him was difficult but it was the best decision we could have made. Thank you FUMA for everything.
Although last year is a hard year for both school and students due to COVID-19, Pham is still able to come to FUMA and successfully passed his first school year, thanks to the supports of professors. It was a risky decision to let Pham study abroad during the pandemic, but our family knows that is the right decision and extremely proud to see Pham becoming more mature and independent during his time at FUMA. We couldn't help surprising to see Pham grow much taller in just one school year as well as full of happiness when seeing him got the prize in the history contest. Thank you so much for supporting our son!
My cadet was struggling with online learning, failing just about every class. It wasn’t the best option for how he learns.
He was also getting lazy and fat. We noticed an immediate improvement in his demeanor, work ethic both in sports and in school upon arriving at Fork Union.
He went from hating school to now being a part of the leadership team at FUMA while improving his grades and participating in sports.
Without FUMA I don’t know what else we would have been able to do for him this year. As a family we went from worrying about his future to a year later feeling very positive about where he is headed.
Jackson has had a challenging, yet very rewarding sophomore year at FUMA. We are most proud of his work ethic this year--waking up very early in the mornings, working late into the evenings on homework after sports practice, clubs, and family time. He worked hard and earned excellent grades in all of his classes, including two AP classes, and a college-level class. He attended Leadership Training, advanced in rank, and assumed greater leadership within his company. He achieved several personal records in cross country and track. He deepened friendships with fellow cadets and sought guidance and mentorship from his teachers, coaches, and faculty. He again participated in Phonathon and secured great pledges while enjoying chatting with alumni and supporters. He participated in several interesting clubs, including some new to FUMA.
Jackson's biggest accomplishments will come this summer when he will attend two highly selective programs for high school students. In June he will attend an intensive two-week course in Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard University's Pre-College Summer Program. Then in August, he will attend the one-week Washington & The World Academy at Georgetown University's High School Summer Session. This program will be lead by faculty from the renowned Walsh School of Foreign Service. Jackson was awarded scholarships by both universities to attend these programs.
First of all, we are very deeply thankful to FUMA's Corps of Cadets that have been so dedicated for our young cadets and have gotten through this most unusual and difficult year. We researched many years before we decided to enroll and FUMA's Corps of Cadets has proven to be impressive. We are very proud our son finished a second year and of course we will be supporting him many years to come. It is the best investment for our child's brilliant future and it will be lasting for a lifetime. What we have been seeing is the last of our son's juvenile plumage molting just in weeks. My spouse dropped a stream of joyful tears when we made our first visit to him at the boarding facility, even though it's a very short distance from our home. We have been "over the moon" that we made the great decision and FUMA is the best place, not only for the education but it is the best place to create your child's brilliant future.
Jackson was a straight A student that seemed to enjoy learning until he started high school. Since his freshman year, we saw a steady decline in his grades as well as his attitude. He lacked motivation, became disrespectful, and kept to himself. The pandemic only added to these dispositions and his father and I knew he needed a change. We toured several schools before choosing Fork Union. We liked the opportunities and the One Subject Plan. He was invited to try out for the Retan Rifles early on, which we think really boosted his self esteem. He went from playing no sports to playing two in one season and we even saw pictures of him on Instagram participating in a ping pong tournament. Jackson went from a sub-2.0 GPA to straight A's.
Our son is completing his first year at Fork Union. We sent him away to school during a pandemic. We sent him away to school after a difficult move from his home country, not knowing anyone here in the United States. We sent him away as a boy who was unsure of himself and painfully shy. We were so afraid to send him away from us knowing all the serious challenges he would be facing. Our hearts were broken watching him leave knowing we wouldn't see him for months on end, knowing we could only talk to him for a short time each day.
Laith will be coming home to us for the summer, no longer a boy, but as a young man confident in who he is. We are receiving a young man who is future looking for the first time in his life. He will arrive home a young man who found value in himself.
He is tired. He is aching to be with his family. He is exhausted from the year, but he knows he is better for the hard work and dedication that he has put into this year.
We are exceptionally proud of Laith and all of his hard work. His straight A average, his quick rise in rank, his effort to move out of his comfort zone to join sports he didn't know how to play are all reasons that we are proud of him. All of these things pale in comparison to the pride we feel seeing the man inside him. He cares about equality for everyone. He cares about being a gentleman and treating others with respect. He takes seriously his responsibilities. He knows how to communicate and strive for independence. These are the true mark of a man. These are the qualities and values which we are so proud to see in our son. It will be our great joy to watch him grow even more confident in the years to come.
This is Casey's second year at FUMA, one more to go! When we brought him there the first day, he was struggling with many things. He wanted to come home, and the mom in me wanted to go get him. We didn't and it has turned out to be the best decision we ever made. He is thriving there. He has played basketball and returned to the baseball field after a few years away. He has made friends from around the world. He is on the cadet staff next year. He had grown and matured into such an amazing young man. His whole family is so proud of what he has accomplished and we are looking forward to his future. He ended this year on the President's List for straight A's. My heart is full because of FUMA and everyone who is supporting him.
Peter came to Fork Union after serious struggles with online learning due to COVID during his freshman year at public school. We knew we could not let our brilliant boy fail simply because he needed in-person engagement. At first, the adjustment was a struggle, but soon Peter not only stepped up, but embraced his education at FUMA and has gotten great grades and achieved several personal goals for himself. I have watched FUMA mature this boy into an amazing young man with a sense of personal responsibility, drive, and ambition. He wants to finish out his remaining years, and has even discussed going into the military after he gets out. He is working to achieve rank for next year, so when he graduates he will have had the experience of being an officer. Peter has also loved being a shining star on campus and is proud to be the school bugler, so much that he has decided he will be playing morning colors and evening retreat at home all summer. (Oh boy)
Our cadet had been after us to send him to FUMA for years. He is a self-directed child and felt the One Subject Plan would be perfect for him. Also, he's outgoing and social. Once the pandemic hit, we finally pulled the trigger and off he went to Virginia for 10th grade! Now that the results are in, we (and he) couldn't be happier! Focusing on one-subject at a time was exactly what he needed. And being part of a close-knit social group was exactly what he wanted. The small class sizes and individual attention resulted in great progress academically. More importantly, the culture of individual accountability and responsibility has matured his attitude towards school...and life. We're so glad he'll be attending next year!
We are so fortunate to have our son at Fork Union. While many students around the country were unable to benefit from in-person classroom work, FUMA developed a solid plan for maintaining in-person classes and it worked! This enabled our son to continue to do well academically, making the honor roll at one point. In addition, he not only continued to run on the cross-country team, but surprised us by going out for and making the tennis team. He even earned a Bravo Zulu Award in the spring, which made us most proud!!!! In a year when so many students fell behind in their academic, athletic, and social development because of school disruptions from the pandemic, our son surged ahead at arguably a faster pace than any other time in his life. Thank you, FUMA!