Parents & Alumni Tell Their  Stories

Testimonials

Parents and alumni have shared with us the stories of their Fork Union experience and how it has shaped or impacted their lives as well as their academic or athletic success.

We invite you to read their stories below and share your own story about your experience at Fork Union.
Fork Union Campus

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.

Semper Fidelis,
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

Our lives changed the day we dropped off our little boy as a boarding student

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.

Mother of a Day Student

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.

Mrs. K. Joseph, A (2020-21) Parent

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.

A current parent
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