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By Trever Lloyd

The history of the Paul R.  Brown Leadership Academy is unique. Bladen County’s very own Carl T. Lloyd, the Commandant of Cadets of the Academy, worked at private military schools from  1992-2013. Around 2008-2009, he started a plan to one day give students and families from his community a new opportunity.

That opportunity was a military school education.  To do this, Lloyd would have to start his military school. This plan required over four years of work and help from many people. Some work included driving his then cadets from ST John Northwestern Military Academy 17 hours from Delafield, Wisconsin, to Elizabethtown.

The Cadets would march in parades here in Bladen County to give people a hint of what the school would be. Once a month, he would have “Saturdays with the Commandant” to teach the new cadet how to march. This work eventually paid off.

In the fall of 2013, Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy (PRBLA) officially opened its doors with 68 6th—to 10th-grade students on the first day of school. By the end of the first month, the school had 99 students attending. Throughout the first year, the school worked hard as faculty, staff, and wonderful parents helped carpool students to school every day.

Today, the school has a total of 214 cadets who are currently attending the school. PRBLA offers enrollment from 6th to 12th grade.

To this day, PRBL is still the only military charter school in North Carolina. The institution is a regular school for cadets of all backgrounds and homes. In the Academy’s second year, the school officials agreed with Bladen Community College to offer a dual enrollment program.  This program offers college classes for juniors and seniors.  The classes include college transfer courses, cosmetology, carpentry, welding, and trade apprenticeship.

PRBLA provides transportation for Cadets from Bladen, Cumberland, Hoke, Columbus, and Robinson County.  The Academy also provides lunch to all Cadets.  Transportation and lunch are two of the most significant obstacles children face in charter schools. PRBLA has found solutions for their Cadets.

According to Dr. Jason Wray, PRBLA Superintendent, the school offers programs that allow their Cadets to get a quality education. The cadets attending the school are pushed and supported academically and taught military customs and courtesies. Extracurricular activities include Drill Team, Cross Country, Cheerleading, and Basketball.  The Academy has plans to add more athletics in the coming years.  As the school grows, other activities include a United States Navy Sea Cadet Corps unit and a partnership with the Virginia Military Institute  C.O. W.  program.

The Academy’s ten-year history has seen many alum success stories, with its Cadets becoming college graduates, learning trades, and enlisting in the armed forces. In 2020, PRBLA 2017 graduate, former First Captain Iyanna McAllister graduated from North Carolina A&T State University.  She is working on obtaining her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from Bowie State University. Fellow 2017 graduate Starnari Ballard obtained her bachelor’s degree in sci from UNC Pembroke and currently works as a science teacher at the Academy.

Former First Captain Tristen Bray, a PRBLA 2020 graduate, will be commissioned as a United States Army officer next month after he graduates from Virginia Military Institute. Jessica Lamb, a PRBLA 2020 graduate, serves in the United States Marine Corps. Keyanna Cann, PRBLA 2019 graduate; Josh White, PRBLA 2022 graduate; Omar Cisse, PRBLA 2022 graduate; and Michael Gillespie, PRBLA 2022 graduate, all serve in the United States Navy.  Marvin Munford, PRBLA 2022 graduate, Dayvion Lacy, PRBLA 2023 graduate, and Linwood Britton, PRBLA 2023 graduate, serve in the United States Army.

Under the leadership of its Superintendent, Dr. Wray, the Academy is setting records and looking forward to another record-breaking enrollment this year. If you want to enroll your child or know somebody who is, visit  https://www.paulrbrownleadership.com and click the apply online button.

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