Youth Challenge graduates ready to take on the world

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Photos courtesy Bluegrass Challenge Academy and Appalachian Challenge Academy

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Graduating cadets stream into the assembly hall for the Dec. 12, 2014 for Appalachian Challenge Academy.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — On December 12-13, 2014 the Kentucky National Guard’s Youth Challenge celebrated dual graduations for the Bluegrass Challenge Academy at Fort Knox and the Bluegrass Challenge Academy in Harlan, graduating a combine 181 cadets hailing from just about every corner of the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the Appalachian Challenge Academy Graduation 005 Newsletter

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Cadets provide a color guard at the Bluegrass Challenge Academy graduation, Dec. 13, 2014.

During their tenure at their respective academies, cadets studied hard, accruing a total of 475 high school credits and more than 10,000 hours of community service.  They also took on a variety of life skills projects, to include raising vegetables for donation to local hospice patients and food banks for the needy, volunteering at local Headstart programs, raising awareness about domestic violence, learning CPR and taking part in college day events.

Most important, these determined young people developed team building and communications skills geared toward becoming independent, self-sufficient and effective adults.

Click here to see a message from Josh Mortenson, graduate of Bluegrass Challenge Academy Class 31.

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Bluegrass Challenge Academy class president Joshua Mortenson speaks to the audience during the Dec. 13, 2014 graduation ceremony.

“My son most definitely benefited from attending Bluegrass Challenge Academy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Diana Mortenson, mother of BCA class president Joshua Mortenson. “His time there gave him focus and discipline, plus it helped him figure out a few things about himself. He’s definitely more driven and determined to make a difference in his life. I’m so proud of him and I’m grateful to the cadre for the guidance and care they gave him.”

“I am constantly amazed by the mountain of accomplishments executed by these young people in such a short period of time,” said Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini, who oversees the program for the Kentucky National Guard.  “Many of these kids come to us with ruck sacks full of problems, some academic, some beyond just school.   But these young men and women change.  They are now trained and equipped to become productive members of our communities.”

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Appalachian Challenge Academy honor graduates Kourd MacGregor, Joseph Copley and Kaitlyn King look forward to the next challenge in their lives.

The next step for the graduates is to continue the ChalleNGe by beginning college, returning to high school, joining the military, continuing their adult education, or seeking employment.

Both academies are currently signing up candidates for their next class, which begins this weekend.  For more information visit kyyouthchallenge.org.

 

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