Submitted by Megan Ready, Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program
The Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program graduated 215 cadets during a ceremony at The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, La., on Jan. 24.
Louisiana Representative Henry L. Burns, District 9, was present and addressed the graduating class.
Through partnerships with Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) and Associated Building Contractors, The Youth Challenge Program now offers students additional opportunities to further their educational goals.
This graduating class from Minden, La., included 110 cadets who participated in the BPCC program. 37 students had the potential to earn up to 21 transferrable college credits, and 96 students had the potential to earn up to 15 transferrable college credits before graduating from the 5 ½ month residential phase. In total, more than 1,150 transferrable college credits were earned. Additionally, in partnership with Associated Building Contractors, 76 cadets completed a 90 hour NCCER course which allows them to become certified in basic construction technology.
This graduating class included 10 cadets who were awarded the rank of 5 star, which is the highest rank a cadet can achieve. These cadets excelled in all aspects of the program and were selected as leaders among their peers. Of these top cadets, Darius Lindsey of Bossier City, La. was selected as Cadet of the Cycle, and delivered the commencement speech during the ceremony.
CPT. Jason Montgomery, director of YCP at Camp Minden stated, “YCP graduations are always bitter sweet. Watching the cadets grow, from week one to week twenty two is a blessed experience. The journey has been long, and they earned the privilege to graduate. The Youth Challenge Program changes lives, of both cadets and staff. I’m grateful just to have the opportunity to impact the lives of these young adults.”
The mission of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year-old adolescents, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary in order to succeed as productive citizens.
The Youth Challenge Program offers young people an opportunity to improve their lives through participation in an innovative, alternative school. Students looking for a way to succeed outside of a traditional school setting learn self-discipline, leadership, and responsibility while working to obtain a high school equivalency diploma.
In total, YCP is a 17 month program which consists of two phases. During the 5 month Residential Phase, students live on site at one of the three locations: Camp Minden near Shreveport, Camp Beauregard in Central Louisiana, and The Gillis W. Long Center near Baton Rouge. During the Residential Phase, students attend school, receive individual counseling, and are supervised 24 hours a day. After graduation, students return home and enter the 12 month Post Residential Phase. During this phase, which is designed to help students continue in a positive direction, graduates are assisted by case managers and community mentors to continue their education, enroll in college, begin job training, find employment, or enlist in the military.