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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 14, 2024


May 1, 2004 – Four years ago St. Croix residents Dwain and Donna Ford made a tough decision. Their son Doug was struggling academically and seemed to lack motivation and direction.
Concerned about their son's future, the Fords began looking into boarding schools. They had narrowed their search when a representative from Florida Air Academy came to St. Croix. The Fords were impressed by the Academy's strong focus on academics, structure and extracurricular opportunities.
"Doug has always been a terrific kid, but we were afraid he just wasn't going to get the quality education he needed," Dwain Ford said. Doug acknowledges he was only going through the motions at school in St. Croix saying, "as soon as school was over, I just went with my friends to the beach or hung out in town. I just wasn't too motivated to do my best."
Looking back to when he first enrolled at the Florida Air Academy prior to entering the seventh grade, Doug recalls, "I learned so much that summer, it really changed the way I look at school and my future."
"It was hard to leave my parents and friends. I missed them a lot, but the school was great! When I arrived on the campus, one of the first things I saw was the Hall of Flags."
The Hall of Flags is the academy's main entrance, and it displays the flags from the countries of current and former cadets. "When I saw the flag for St Croix, I was really proud. It's like I always have a reminder of home here."
Now a sophomore, Doug reflects on the choice made four years ago. "The decision to remain at the academy was an easy one. Just some of the things I have learned are discipline, hard work and the importance of getting a good education. The teachers are awesome! The classes are small so the teachers can reach you and they do fun projects to help you learn. Being at a boarding school, you almost get a second family. He adds, "I'm really lucky because I can talk to my parents about almost anything, but here I have other adults I can also talk to and that means a lot."
Doug also enjoys the camaraderie among the 400-plus boys at the academy. Boarding students from approximately 25 different countries join boys from all over the United States. More than a hundred local "day" students round out the "Corps of Cadets."
At Florida Air Academy, Doug has had an opportunity to expand his horizons. In the very near future, Doug will make his solo flight and earn his pilot's wings. After graduation, he plans to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy and become a pilot.
Doug encourages other parents and V.I. students to seek information about Florida Air Academy via their Web site, or by calling (321) 723-3211.

Editor's note: Information for this article was supplied by Major Debra Landis-Hill of the Florida Air Academy.

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