MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Nothing much has changed in the hallways of the former Angell Elementary since it closed in 2018.
Gone are the sounds of young students heading to class, but that’s set to change Sept. 6.
“Once we start the renovation, people will really see the vision,” Franklin Fudail, co-founder of the Muskegon Martine Academy Charter School, said.
The kindergarten through 5th grade charter school is the vision of two men: One a Navy Seal, the other a boxing promoter who wanted to provide students with a lesson plan that goes beyond what’s in the textbooks.
“Not only academics, also order, discipline, structure, which I think often time lacks out of these public schools,” Fudail said. “I don’t believe you can learn without order.”
Enter Remi Adeleke.
The retired Navy Seal and current actor, writer and producer first met Fudail in 2009, after the Navy assigned Adeleke to talk to Fudail’s boxing club made up of at-risk youth from the Muskegon area.
Adeleke knows a little bit about being an at-risk youth.
Born in Nigeria, his father died when he was 5. His mother, a teacher, moved him and his brother to New York. Despite the love and dedication of his mother, life in the Bronx was not easy for Adeleke.
“I kinda looked to the streets as my father figure, you know, streets, hip hop culture, those sorts of things was my father figure. And that kinda led me down a pretty dark path,” Adeleke said.
A path that lead to trouble with a drug dealer.
“And that kinda was a huge wake-up call for me, cause not only was my life threatened but my mother’s life was threatened,” Adeleke said.
Adeleke changed course. He joined the Navy, eventually becoming a Navy Seal, and turned his life around.
Since meeting Fudail, the two have tossed around the idea of a school that would combine the academics that would provide students opportunities in the maritime fields… and the discipline they need to reach those goals.
“To be able to put my words into action and my time and resources into action was pretty much a no-brainer for me,” Adeleke said. “And this is why I’m focusing the school on military, maritime kind of edicts so to speak because we want them to get the principles I wish I had as a fatherless kid growing up in the inner city.”
So far, 130 of the 250 openings at the school are filled. Fudail expects the rest of the slots to be taken during July and August.
Chartered by Saginaw Valley State University, $700,000 in private funds have been raised for renovation at the school.
Fudail says that work will start next month and will be completed by the time school starts after Labor Day.
“It’s been overwhelming support. I think most of the community respects the idea,” Fudail said.
Success will be measured beyond the grades a student earns.
Both men are hoping for the military disciplines that will become a part of the student experience at the academy will help shape their future.
Although Adeleke says changes don’t always come overnight.
“You don’t really see it sometimes. And then you’ll run into them a few years later or six years later and they’re in college and they’re like you know what, that conversation you had with me when I was 10, 12 years old, it shaped me up,” Adeleke said. “It’s all about getting these lesson. Getting better. Because it’s not just about you getting better just for you. You’re getting better for your culture; you’re getting better for society.”