I am writing this review in the hopes that it may help another mother or father make a more informed decision on choosing a military academy for their child. Like many other parents, I looked at military school as a way to help my son just get back on track after he started to succumb to the peer pressure in high school. Prior to his 10th grade year, Brandon was on an amazing path to success. He did great academically, was very talented athletically playing several sports but especially excelling in soccer, and he was an extremely charming and charismatic teenager. After getting tied up with some not so great kids in 10th grade, we tried a variety of the normal parenting techniques to keep him on track. We grounded, we took away cell phones & other privileges, we did counseling, we set more boundaries, we made a family contract, and the list goes on. After doing some research, we settled on a semester at Oak Ridge Military Academy in North Carolina. Oak Ridge served its purpose well for that one semester-2nd half of his 10th grade year. Brandon was at school every day, he performed outstanding-never in trouble once and his GPA was back up to where we needed it to be for college, and he really didn’t seem to hate being there. However, it wasn’t life changing. He wasn’t challenged academically, the athletic program was very limited, and the kids referred to the school as “Joke Ridge”. I knew that I hadn’t exactly gotten the permanent results that I had hoped for BUT he was coming home for the summer a bit more disciplined and definitely with higher grades. Since things had gone well and he was once again respecting house rules, he began his 11th grade year in his public school at home. Well…same kids, same place, same troubles.
Please see remaining review at my blog post....
Our son attended Hargrave for the Summer Camp of 2015. Last school year our son had problems with missing assignments, lack of study habits, lack of focus and motivation. We researched Hargrave online and thought it was a great fit for him - the Learn to Study program, the strict routine, the watchful eye of staff, the selection of classes, and learning leadership skills. We were nervous as this was 1/2 way across the country for us and also very expensive. We had high hopes.
We are disappointed in what happened in reality:
1-Lack of communication from staff regarding a hole in the wall that my son supposedly caused. We heard nothing from staff about this, but the information came from our son. I e-mailed several times after the camp, and always got the “we forwarded your e-mail and someone will get back to you”. It’s been 5 weeks now since I started my inquiry, and they STILL have not gotten back to me.
2- Lack of any communication regarding catching our son smoking. We were never notified that our 14 year old son was caught smoking and had 3 days of discipline. We only found out after looking at his emails after the camp was done.
3 – We were told that e-mail usage was monitored closely. Be aware that this is only the hargrave-issued e-mail. Not a google or yahoo e-mail. We had reported our son e-mailing during study hall with his gmail to a teacher during the middle of camp. We thought after reporting it, it would be rectified. But the e-mailing just got worse after that, including him e-mailing during class.
4 – We had problems getting our allowance and security deposit back. They wanted to charge us a $25 stop check fee to re-issue a check that we never received in the mail.
5 - Not knowing at this point what else happened with our son that we were never notified about?
At this point, we deeply regret sending our son to Hargrave for summer school. We thought this was going to be a positive experience for him. We thought it was going to teach him discipline and regimented studying habits. Frankly, we feel he took several steps back in these areas and in general. I would say that this is NOT for kids who just need motivation, better study habits, more focus. If you have a kid that needs motivation, better study habits, etc, try to find help elsewhere – this is NOT the place for it.
Be careful before sending your son to this school. The structure was good during the week, but the boys have very little supervision or structure on the weekends. There are few adults supervising on the weekends and they rely on cadets reporting on each other. This is a problem as many of the students were troubled teens who negatively influenced others.
Spartan rooms but loads of character and leadership building. My son attended the summer of 2014 as a 10th grader and he wasn't thrilled to attend, i assume most of the boys aren't. But they taught my son to study and focus. He excelled in class and returned home tackling his summer prep work for the fall w/out fussing about it. 110 cadets from 7 countries and 22 states. Highly recommend the summer program. The staff are professional and well qualified. I received daily updates on my son's academics and activities. Class size was only 3 in one class and 8 in the other class.
Hargrave Military Academy - Hargrave has really turned my son around. He started there in September 2013 after a dismal failing year in an otherwise excellent public school. Each quarter he improved his grades and we credit that with Hargrave's focus on discipline, academics and structure. The class sizes are very small, teachers are very responsive as is the entire Hargrave staff - infirmary, counselors, and administrative staff. It is run like a military school which is exactly what my son needed. He adapted very quickly to the environment and continues to improve each quarter.
This school is not for bad kids, it's for kids who are average. This school brings out the best or worst in people . From experience this school is not for the weak minded it is harder than any other school and it has excellent academics if your kid is not learning it's his fault not the teachers this school teaches real leadership without hazing or discipline this is the best school if your kid can be molded and I'd open to change its changed me I was not confident and I was weak now. I'm now strong and confident. this school is best if your kid wants to go into the military or business. The school is working towards reforming the barracks it is not poor but not rich for a school either It is what your kid makes of it remember it gears him towards the real world through hardship. Remember the true pheonix rises from the ashes. - submitted by a cadet senior and leader
This school has no standards for the children. Over thirty two thousand dollars are paid per year and the walls are falling apart. The cadets wonder where all the money is going to. They unfairly treat the cadets and I know this because I was a teacher here for 8 years now. The only reason I stayed was because the education was horrible when I got here. I want to help these children get an education for college. The teachers are not certified in my opinion because some of the teachers are college dropouts that graduated at the age of 40. This is ridiculous
The barracks are DEPLORABLE. We understand the age of the buildings, but parents should at least expect cleanliness. When we moved our son, the room was filthy. We had to scrub the floor/baseboards, empty the desk drawers of food/garbage and clean/disinfect the sink. The mattresses were stained, and the furniture was worn with scratches/scribbles. The oversight by the TAC during the year was minimal at best. Boys run the halls screaming and carrying on in the evening while we were trying to talk to our son on the phone. When we visited, clothes in some rooms were strewn about in a mess definitely not in compliance with the strict inspections that Hargrave claims to make regularly. The communal bathroom was disgusting. Two of the four showers did not have curtains for the first 5 weeks, the urinal was frequently broken, doors on the toilet stalls were removed, and towels were on the floor. (Too bad we can t post pictures!) We spoke multiple times to the TAC and school officials who promised results, but we saw no improvements. Be sure to bring cleaning materials and your elbow grease during move-in and for each visit because your complaints will land on deaf ears.
HARGRAVE DID NOT DELIVER ON ANY OF ITS PROMISES IN MIDDLE SCHOOL! During supervised study hall each night, Hargrave promises that a faculty member will visit the student s room to check on homework completion and organization of notes/notebooks. We were horrified to learn after the first 6 weeks that our son s notebook binders for two core classes were empty!! Neither the study hall faculty nor the instructors themselves checked or asked about his notebooks or provided assistance with organizational skills. In fact, the faculty advisor assigned to our son failed to meet with him or provide us any feedback. We had discussions with teachers and school leaders, but they did NOTHING. Our confidence in Hargrave was totally shattered, and we seriously considered transferring our son to another school in early fall. However, a move would have been even more disruptive, so we stuck it out. The remainder of the year was equally as frustrating as Hargrave continually neglected its promises to parents. We hope we can prevent other parents from having a similar gut-wrenching experience and wasting hard-earned funds by deciding not to send your son to Hargrave in the first place!