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    Youth Challenge Cadets Graduate in Time for Holidays National Guard Affiliated Program Gives Youth a Second Chance

    Youth Challenge Cadets Graduate in Time for Holidays National Guard Affiliated Program Gives Youth a Second Chance

    Photo By John Crosby | Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels shakes hands of graduation Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. John Crosby 

    Indiana National Guard Headquarters

    KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. - More than 90 cadets graduated on Dec. 18 from the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy. It was the program's first graduation since moving from Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana to its new location in July.

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels addressed the HYCA graduates during the ceremony.

    "When you fall, it's always hard to pick yourself up. However your fall brought you here to Knightstown. You've stuck through it, and you picked up these life skills to move forward and be successful in society. You are Indiana's future," said Daniels.

    The governor and the Indiana Adjutant General Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger established HYCA in 2007 in conjunction with the Indiana National Guard. The academy is part of the National Youth Challenge Program, which was established in 1993 by the National Guard. Through structure and discipline, the program has graduated more than 90,000 young men and women between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are severely deficient in graduation credits, according to the program's website.

    Close to $20,000 in college scholarships were awarded to the graduates, which included 14 $1,000 scholarships from Ivy Tech.

    Sixteen-year-old Cadet Eminence Tennyson of Newburgh, Ind., and Ivy Tech Scholarship recipient said, "I'm really grateful for this program. Now I have a chance to do what I want to do, and I have a plan for my future. I'm so excited to graduate and start on my new life. So many doors were closed before I came here, but this is like the big, French doors opening for a new, beautiful future."

    Tennyson plans on using her scholarship at Ivy Tech and taking classes at the University of Southern Indiana starting in January to become a registered nurse. Her end goal is to be an anesthesiologist.
    Finishing top of her class was not without its challenges.

    "At the beginning you're scared and think you're all alone, but in the short time you are here you realize how much (the cadre) are there for you, and these people become your family. We've become so closely knit; it's incredible."

    Hugs and smiles were exchanged as proud parents embraced their teenage children adorned in graduation attire with newly earned graduation certificates in hand.

    "I'm extremely proud of Eminence, she has grown up so much," said Theresa Baggett. Since Tennyson was five-years-old, Baggett has been her Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. Baggett is now Tennyson's mentor, sponsoring her in the Youth Challenge program. "She is more focused, she has a plan, and she knows what she wants to do. She needed a little discipline.

    She really didn't come from a very structured background, and this program has really been wonderful for her."

    Tennyson's mother agrees. Although proud of her daughter, she said the road to graduation was difficult in coping with the separation.

    "It's made a huge difference in her life and mine and I'm not going to say it was easy because it's been very difficult to be apart," said Sherri Tennyson, Eminence's mother. "I miss her tremendously, but it is awesome what this camp does for the child and the parent. Everybody's involved so that they know that they're future is on track. She's motivated in school, her future. She's changing her friends. I'm really proud of her. She is on the right path."

    The Hoosier Challenge Academy is a 17-and-a-half month, two phase quasi-military modeled training academy. The residential phase consists of five-and-a-half months while the post residential phase is 12 months. In the course of the academy, cadets receive assistance earning their GED diploma.
    Cadets are encouraged and assisted in continuing their education in a college, trade or technical school. Each cadet obtains additional assistance from a mentor, who offers guidance and advice during the remaining 12 months.

    While residing at the academy, cadets learn leadership and followership, responsible citizenship, academic excellence, job skills, life coping skills, health and hygiene, physical fitness and service to community.

    Each graduating cadet performed an average of 45 hours of community service.

    For 2010, community service hours completed by Challenge cadets saved Indiana tax payers more than $109,000. Since the program began three years ago, cadets have given back more than $294,000 to Indiana through volunteerism, according to HYCA officials.

    The academy is scheduled to begin its next rotation of classes in January 2011. For more information about HYCA, visit or call 866-477-0156.



    Date Taken: 12.23.2010
    Date Posted: 12.23.2010 08:58
    Story ID: 62530
    Location: KNIGHTSTOWN, US 

    Web Views: 143
    Downloads: 1