Dad, sons will complete lifelong goal — a diploma — together
URBANA — When Larry Camble was in the 10th grade in Lansing, Mich., he decided to drop out of school. "I wasn't doing well in my classes, so I quit and got a job working in a glass factory," he said.
The year was 1977.
"I always planned to go back to school and finish up my diploma, but life intervened," said the 55-year-old Champaign man. "I tried several times to go get a GED: first in 1987 and again in 1993 and once more in 1996. But one thing after another came up.
"I learned the hard way that, as you get older, the opportunities to continue your education become fewer."
More than three decades later, Larry Cample will proudly receive a high school diploma on Sunday afternoon at Urbana High School.
Even better, Cample will graduate alongside his two sons, Jamari, 20, and Marshon, 19, a pair of former high school dropouts who also enrolled in Urbana Adult Education to get a new start on life.
The Camples are among 70 adults who will earn their high school diplomas from Urbana Adult Education this spring. Fifty-seven of them will walk across the stage during ceremonies Sunday at the Urbana High School auditorium, says Carol Sutherland, the program's instruction technology and media coordinator.
It's been a long, hard road for Larry Camble, who just last year found himself living here in the Twin Cities, hundreds of miles from his sons back in Michigan.
Jamari and Marshon had both followed their father's footsteps in a way they weren't particularly proud of. They had both dropped out of EDTREK, an alternative high school in Lansing.
"I often didn't have a ride to get to school," Jamari said.
"The neighborhood I was living in wasn't very good or safe," Marshon said.
When Larry learned that his sons were moving from house to house in Lansing, he decided to bring them to Champaign, where he was determined to give them a home. The boys' mother continues to live in Michigan, he said.
"The boys needed me, so I needed to go to Michigan to get them," Larry said. "I cared about the boys, so they came to live with me in Champaign."
Shortly after his sons' arrival here, Jamari and Marshon tried to get jobs with FedEx. That's when they learned they were missing one important requirement: a high school diploma.
When their father heard the news, he said it hit him: It was finally time for all three to do something about it.
"I had wanted a diploma for a long time, and I wanted the boys to finish up school also," Larry said. "We were all taking an important step in returning to school."
Beginning in January 2013, the Cample clan spent three hours a day, five days a week reading, learning and studying in Urbana Adult Education's downtown classrooms. While the idea is for the adults to generally work at their own pace, dad and sons studied and learned together — with a high school diploma their ultimate goal.
Larry said the Urbana Adult Education teachers have been extremely helpful throughout the experience.
"This place is fantastic. You wouldn't believe all the caring stuff that goes on here," he said. "I would think that anybody in their right mind who wants to come back to school should come here."
"The teachers were always there to answer my questions," Marshon agreed.
Larry said it wasn't awkward studying alongside his sons.
"I actually think the experience has brought us closer together," he said. "We got to spend three hours a day working toward a common goal."
The completion of classes has already given his kids new opportunities. FedEx recently hired both of them for jobs loading trucks.
"I can finally move on with a new job," Jamari said.
All three Camples say they plan to enroll at Parkland College to continue their education.
"When we finally hold those diplomas on Sunday, it is going to be a life-changing moment for all of us," Larry said. "For me, it will be a weight off my shoulders."