Boarding Life Experience: The Lemmons Family

Boarding life at Admiral Farragut Academy has always been diverse. Even dating back to the earliest years of the St. Petersburg campus, students have traveled from countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bermuda, and Canada to study at Farragut. Today, we are home to students from 17 states and 26 different countries. At any given time in the halls, you will hear Chinese, Spanish, and Russian being spoken alongside English, and many students are proud to say that they have friends from countries like Monaco, Panama, and the Czech Republic.

It is this melting pot of cultures that the Lemmons brothers call home.

Caleb Lemmons ‘20 has been a student at Farragut since his 8th grade year in 2015. His younger brother, Christian, joined him this past year.

“I have to confess that Caleb leaving us at age 13 and Christian this year was a major challenge,” said James Lemmons, Caleb and Christian’s dad. “They both seemed to make the transition look easy, which in turn made it easier for us. And of course, Farragut has had a lot to do with making them feel at home.”

The Lemmons family lives in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where James works for Saudi Aramco, a Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company. “Caleb was born in Saudi and Christian was born in Bahrain,” James said. “They have both had the luxury of traveling to more than 40 countries. This has exposed them to cultures from all over the world and broadened their perspective on life.”

“The atmosphere here is like a family,” Caleb said.

“It’s small, and everyone knows everyone. When you do something good, everyone knows about it, and same as when you do something bad.”

Christian agreed. “You always have friends by your side.”

“I don’t get homesick too much,” Caleb continued. “The first time I was away from home was at a baseball camp for two weeks, and I was homesick there, but here it’s the opposite.”

“I’m okay with living away,” Christian added. “Last year I was a boarder at another school so it was different and I wasn’t with my brother. This year I feel like I’m with family because I have my older brother with me. That definitely helps me to not be homesick.”

“The separation from the family has been the biggest impact on us,” James said. “Their younger brother, Carlin, who is still at home, often misses them and asks questions about the need for the separation. However, this setback is more than compensated by the obvious growth in Caleb. I am amazed at the pace of growth and maturity I’ve seen in Caleb from the very beginning of his stay at Farragut.”

Since he started, Caleb has built and developed a strong wrestling career, placing consistently in tournaments and meets. “I am not sure where that came from,” James said, “but he has found a passion that has directly influenced his academic work ethics and personal maturity.”

Caleb is planning to continue wrestling into college, where he is interested in either biology or engineering. “Biology is my favorite class. Mrs. Deitche makes it really fun.”

Christian, who is newer to boarding school life and Farragut, is also developing.

“Boarding teaches you to be independent,” Christian said. “It shows you an example of what you’ll do in the future.”

Christian isn’t sure yet what he wants to be when he grows up, but right now he likes science. “It’s really fun to see all the animals in Mr. Sadler’s room.”

The Lemmons family has plenty of advice for future boarding families.

“My main advice to other parents would be to stand back and watch them grow,” James said.

“Micromanaging may inhibit their growth. Facilitate their growth by expanding privileges step by step. Let them find their own way, similar to Caleb and wrestling.”

“Be prepared,” Caleb said. “Boarding is a life-changing experience and it’s a tough thing to be prepared for, but you’ll have friends who will have your back.”

Christian’s advice is simple. “Do well and you’ll be okay.”