KINGWOOD, W.Va. (WV News) — The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy North, located in Kingwood, West Virginia, graduated 79 cadets as a part of Class 2-2022.
Cadets from Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy in Preston County recently celebrate graduation.
Edwin L. Wriston / West Virginia National Guard
Since its inception in 1993, the Mountaineer Challenge Academy has graduated 5,314 cadets with 2,220 earning their high school diploma in the process.
Brig. Gen. Michael Cadle, director of the Joint Staff, served as the senior military representative for the West Virginia National Guard during the graduation ceremony.
“It is truly an honor and privilege to be able to share in the celebration today with these young men and women and their families as they graduate from MCA-North,” Cadle said. “The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program has had tremendous impacts across the United States and the 79 cadets who graduate here today add to that enduring legacy. This program changes lives and each cadet should be proud of all they have achieved.”
Cadle told each graduate to “keep challenging yourselves. Keep pushing yourselves. Keep striving. Keep moving forward. Continue to push yourself towards accomplishing the dreams and plans that you have made while with us.”
Class 2-2022 North has 63 cadets, or 80 percent, graduating the program with a high school diploma. Of those graduating, 46 percent (36 cadets) plan to join the workforce; 16 percent (13 cadets) plan to join the military; 22 percent (17 cadets) plan to attend a vocational/technical program; and two percent (2 cadets) plan to go onto a four-year college program. Fourteen percent of the class (11 cadets) plan to participate in the Mountaineer Job ChalleNGe Program after graduation.
Class 2-2022 North represents 31 different counties throughout the Mountain State, with Kanawha County having the highest enrollment for the course with 12 cadets.
Throughout the 22-week program, cadets provided more than 4,909 hours of community service through 44 different projects, a recognized value of more than $147,045.51.
The mission of the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is to train and mentor selected at-risk youth to become contributing members of society using the Eight Core Components in a quasi-military environment during a 22-week residential and one-year post-residential follow-up program. It is a free volunteer program for West Virginia youth ages 16 to 18 years old who are educationally at-risk.
Award winners from the program are: Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and Esprit de Corps Award, Cadet Garrett Mazzie, Flemington, son of Jennifer Mazzie of Flemington; Adjutant General’s Award for Academic Excellence, Cadet Brandon Moss, Wheeling, son of Brandon and Neuth Moss, Wheeling; Leadership Award and Hawken Challenge Award, Cadet Harmon Goodwin, Davisville, son of Gary and Kelley Goodwin of Davisville; Citizenship Award, Cadet Joshua LeGrand, Wayne; Academic Challenge Award, Cadet Kaylee Lester, Fireco, daughter of Stephen and Lucy Lester of Fireco; Most Improved Cadet Award, Cadet Andrew Eastham, Parkersburg, son of Kristie West of Parkersburg, and Iron Mike Award for Physical Fitness, Cadet Marcus Bozman, Charleston, son of Janie Dotson of Charleston.