CARLSBAD — While parents and kids gear up for the new school year, the Army and Navy Academy, a staple in the Carlsbad community, is doing the same. Rich with history, this internationally recognized college preparatory boarding school for boys has been around for more than 100 years.
“We produce young men, by and large, that go to college and become upstanding citizens,” said Stephen Bliss, president at the Army and Navy Academy and retired Brigadier General of the United States Army.
The 16-acre oceanfront campus builds academic abilities; its last graduating class were all college bound.
Bliss said that 90 percent of their students were accepted into a four-year college or university, while the remaining percentage was headed for a community or junior college.
“We have a good track record,” he said.
The majority of their alumni, Bliss said, predominately attend civilian colleges. It’s estimated that among their graduates not more than 10 percent will continue on a military pathway.
The concentration of its JROTC military program has multiple goals such as character and leadership development. It also helps ground young men who may need a directional helping hand.
The school is organized like a military organization for a purpose.
“We use this model as a means of focusing the students on what it is that they’re here to do because we get a lot of kids for one reason or another who are not performing up to their expectations,” he said. “And when they get it, the vast majority of them are really able to perform at a better level than they were before — I think we are doing these kids a great service.”
Bliss describes the Army and Navy Academy as a niche for people whose sons need discipline, accountability, and structure in their lives.
For example, at 6 a.m. cadets are awakened by bugle call of Reveille. From there, they shower, have breakfast, tidy up their room for inspection, and then head off to school. The day is packed with activities, such as football, water polo, basketball, wrestling, soccer, track and field, tennis, golf, swimming, baseball, and band.
Literally steps away from the beach, the boys enjoy catching the waves on their surfboards. Not only will a child receive a good education and active lifestyle, Bliss said, but the academy works hard to instill values and skill sets which will set them up for success.
“Our mission statement says to educate and develop good character in young men and that’s what we do,” he said.
The academy is a five-day boarding school for 7 to 12 graders, but the majority of its kids who live locally go home on a Friday afternoons and arrive back on Sunday nights. For those who live farther away, there are supervised activity programs round-the-clock on weekends.
The majority of its students reside in California. Others come from surrounding states and even across international borders like China, Taiwan and Mexico.
Bliss is expecting 290 students for the new school year. Frequently, Bliss hears his alumni talk about what a positive, life-changing experience they had at the academy.
And Jack Wyatt, chairman of the Board of Trustees and graduate of the Army and Navy Academy Class of 1963, agrees.
“The academy prepared me to be a better person,” he said. “I learned a lot of discipline, self-esteem and self- confidence. And lifelong friendships were made.”
Wyatt’s mother enrolled him after his father passed away.
“My mother felt this would be the best environment for me to grow up because I no longer had a father influence,” he said. “I was successful at UCLA because I learned how to take care of myself and act responsibility.”
Wyatt worked in the private sector for 30 years and served in the Navy Reserves for 35 years. He retired a Navy captain.
Although technology plays a big part in the 21st century, Wyatt said, the academy will always keep its traditions and customs because that’s what makes it all worthwhile.