Since graduating from the St. Petersburg campus of Admiral Farragut Academy in 1979, Dr. Albert E. “Butch” Andrion, II and his family have seen the progressive changes that have made, and continue to make, Farragut one of the top military schools in Florida. His personal experience, and the core values of accountability, responsibility, commitment and integrity which are instilled in each and every cadet that passes through it’s doors, made Admiral Farragut Academy a natural choice when searching for the perfect educational environment for his four daughters. He has watched his daughters Amanda ‘08, Stephanie ‘10, Melanie ‘16 and Cassandra ‘19, excel and thrive, in the same environment that he credits for contributing to his level of success in developing one of the largest single doctor chiropractic practices in the St. Petersburg area.
For Dr. Andrion, merely setting foot on campus brings about a tremendous sense of nostalgia. “When Farragut became coed in 1990, it gave me the opportunity to send my daughters there and to a large degree, I almost feel as though I never left. I take such pride in knowing that Amanda and I were the first father-daughter legacy pair to graduate from Farragut. In fact, three of my daughters earned that father-daughter legacy.”
Dr. Andrion is originally from the small town of Bel Air, 35 miles outside of Baltimore, Maryland. He laughs when he says that while he was growing up there, in the 60’s and early to mid-70’s, Bel Air made Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show, look like the big city! He said that with urban sprawl, much has changed there, however, looking back at it now, at that time, moving to Florida and leaving public high school to attend an all-boys military school was a pretty major adjustment for a 15 year old to make. His father, Dr. Albert E. Andrion, Sr., also a chiropractic physician, had been a Chief Boatswain Mate in the United States Navy, where he had seen a lot of action during World War II. He had originally enlisted in the Navy in 1933, and re-enlisted in the Navy at the outbreak of the war. “The Navy was a very big part of my father’s life. I learned at a very early age that there was the right way, and the Navy way.” It was only natural that given the impact the Navy had on the elder Andrion, he would send his son to Farragut for his sophomore year in 1976.
Within the first months of attending the school, Andrion was surprised by the rigidity, and regimentation. He wasn’t used to having his peers tell him what to do. “Truthfully, after the first week, I had had enough. I remember sitting down with my father and telling him that I didn’t want anything to do with Farragut and that I wanted to go to a different school.” Father and son agreed Andrion would finish out the semester and see how he felt at that time. After the initial shock had worn off, cadet Andrion actually discovered that he enjoyed the Farragut environment. “I will never forget my biology teacher my sophomore year, Capt. Barnwell Sanders,” said Andrion.
“I remember walking into his class the first day. We stood at attention, we were inspected, and told to be seated. We sat at attention, listened while he lectured and we took notes. He was a phenomenal educator and human being.”
He found the faculty to be very supportive and they encouraged him to expand his horizons. He played center field on the baseball team his junior and senior years and sang first tenor in the choir. “It was kind of funny,” said Andrion, “I didn’t even know that I could sing. One of my classmates, Brett Stoneceipher, knew that I played the guitar and he was singing in the choir, they needed someone to play the guitar for one of their performances and he asked if I could help them. I agreed, and the rest (as they say) is history.” The choir director at the time, Major James T. Harris, was instrumental in encouraging Andrion to sing. “Little did I know at that time, but he had opened a door for me that would give me a great deal of pleasure in years to come,” said Andrion. Cadet Andrion was promoted to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, which was the highest rank attainable for a day student, mid-way through his junior year.
After graduation, Andrion attended St. Petersburg Junior College, Hillsborough Community College and the University of South Florida in order to complete the undergraduate requirement for admission into chiropractic school as quickly as possible. He graduated from Life Chiropractic College in Marietta, Georgia in 1986 and entered private practice with his father later that year. “I had planned on becoming a chiropractor as far back as I can remember,” said Andrion.
“I love what I do and I still use the structure and life lessons that I learned from both my father and Farragut daily. I still shine my shoes and make sure my gig line is straight every morning before I see my first patient.”
When Andrion’s oldest daughter, Amanda, entered high school, she attended a magnet school in the Pinellas County public school system. “Of course I wanted to send her to Farragut, but met opposition from my wife and after being advised against it by her 8th grade teachers, as they felt that Amanda would not do well in a structured environment. I caved in and allowed her to attend the public school for her freshman year. Well, it turned out to be an absolute disaster.” The issues had nothing to do with his daughter, it was the environment and quality of education that disappointed he and his wife. “I remember meeting with her Algebra teacher. When I met him I thought he was one of the students. When he saw the look on my face he could tell that there was something wrong. I felt obligated to tell him that I expected him to dress more like a teacher and not a student.” The following year, the Andrion’s mutually agreed that Amanda would attend Farragut.
“Enrolling Amanda at Farragut proved to be tremendously beneficial. She thrived in the school’s atmosphere and traditions. It gave her a sense of self-discipline and self-confidence.”
During her three years at Farragut, Amanda immersed herself in everything Farragut had to offer. She participated in NJROTC as Platoon Guide-On and became one of the school’s first female Drill Company Commanders. With the drill team, she participated in the Un-Armed Basic, Armed Basic, and Armed Exhibition teams. She participated in volleyball, soccer and cheerleading. She was the captain of the cheerleading team her senior year. In addition to her involvement with Key/Leo Club and Multicultural Club, she participated in choir, drama, spring musicals, and was on the yearbook staff as the proofing editor. After graduation in 2008, Amanda attended the University of South Florida and received her degree in political science and international affairs and is currently an investment broker with Fidelity.
Following Amanda’s graduation, Andrion became active with Farragut as the President of the Alumni Association. He took over the position after Christian Wagner, class of 1982 North, assumed the position of Farragut’s Foundation President.
Two years behind Amanda was her equally ambitious sister, Stephanie. Like Amanda, Farragut instilled a sense of discipline, self-confidence, focus, and drive. Stephanie participated in cheerleading all four years of high school, played soccer and ran track, and became an accomplished figure skater in her free time. She also participated in choir, drama and the spring musicals. In addition to being selected as the First Company Executive Officer and voted Best Smile for her senior superlative, she was crowned as Homecoming Queen during the 2010 Homecoming football game. Before she was even announced the winner, she was bound and determined to know the results any way she could. “I remember her telling me that Mr. Forrester had the results of all the voting sitting on his desk,” Andrion said. “She went into his office to try and find out the results from him. He ended up eating the paper with the tally so she could not find out.” That is a great example of Stephanie’s level of determination. “When she wants something, she goes for it full speed ahead,” said her dad. Following her 2010 graduation, Stephanie went to St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida where she currently attends and is working towards her doctorate degree in physical therapy.
The Andrion’s third daughter, Melanie, stood out amongst her sisters in her own unique way. Although being somewhat quiet in comparison to her sisters, she knows exactly what she wants, and always has a plan to achieve it,” said her dad. “She is very kind and giving, and has a tremendous heart.” She played volleyball throughout high school and girls basketball her senior year. “I am very proud of her loyalty, dedication and sense of commitment,” said Andrion. She is creative in the arts, and was very involved with 3D modeling and animation group. She’s also a very skilled writer and has won National recognition for her writing skills, as well winning the English Award when she graduated. “I have watched her flourish and grow into such an amazing person. I had no earthly idea that she was such a talented writer. She continues to surprise me all the time,” said her father.
Melanie currently attends St. Petersburg College following her 2016 graduation. She plans to transfer to the Ringling School of Fine Art and Design, where she plans to study computer animation. She hopes to someday work for Disney or Pixar in their animation department.
The Andrion’s fourth daughter, Cassandra, better known as Casey, is the last of the girls and will graduate in 2019. She currently plays soccer, volleyball, and runs track and does the pole vault. She takes all honors and advanced placement classes, and is extremely busy studying. Following her graduation from Farragut, Casey plans on becoming a psychologist.
Graduation exercises at Farragut is truly a special occasion filled with many traditions. One of Dr. Andrion’s most cherished experiences started with his first daughter with the tradition awarded our alumni in which they present their children with their diploma on stage. Casey will receive that same honor that was bestowed on her three sisters. Dr. Andrion stated that this has been a shining moment, and a moment of incredible pride for him each and every time knowing that his daughter’s hard work at Farragut had come full circle.
“When Casey graduates, and I hand her that diploma, it will be a very emotional and touching day for sure. It always is, but knowing that Casey will be the last, well…,” said the proud father.
The bonds that form at Farragut are very deep, strong and last a lifetime. Amanda was introduced to her future husband by a Farragut classmate, and there were classmates from as far away as Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and Mexico in attendance at her wedding in 2013. Dr. Andrion said not to count the Andrion legacy out of Farragut just yet. Amanda has two sons, Anthony age two, and Raiden age two months, so there is a possibility that a third generation of the Andrion family could walk the historic hall of Admiral Farragut Academy.