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