Seven local kids graduate Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy

INDIANAPOLIS -- A total of 75 young Hoosiers from 32 counties were honored during a ceremony last week in Knightstown, Ind. as graduates of the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy Class 34, an Indiana National Guard program that offers military-based training to at-risk youth 16-18 years of age who haven't graduated high school.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the resilient young people who graduated from Class 34 of the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy, and the generational impact the academy has had in the lives of thousands of at-risk youth from every corner of our state,” said Maj. Gen. Dale Lyles, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. “The lifelong lessons of discipline and determination students learn at the academy, combined with the credentials that demonstrate their skills and knowledge are an empowering combination.”

Local graduates:

  • Christian Linn - Elkhart
  • Brayden Miller - Elkhart
  • Kaiden Newby - Elkhart
  • Makayla Elliott - Kosciusko
  • Lucas McPhail - St. Joseph
  • Leo Musgrave - St. Joseph
  • Dartanya Parks - St. Joseph

Established in 2007, the academy has graduated 2,600 students throughout the state.

Officials say the free program offered by the Indiana National Guard is not used for recruitment but is meant to train and mentor youth to develop the values, skills, education and self-discipline to become successful young adults.

Class 34 graduates have to go through a two-week acclimation phase followed by a five-month residential phase. They are required to engage in service to the community and participate in a yearlong post-residential mentorship phase to help them achieve their career and life goals.

Academy officials say they plan to hold their first-ever All-Class Reunion on Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its campus in Knightstown. Organizers say the reunion will include organized games, group discussions with class members and an academy tour and that several hundred graduates and their families are expected to attend.

“We are excited to bring together our graduates for a reunion and the chance to share success stories,” said retired Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, president of the Hoosier Youth Foundation. “We also would like to use this event to develop a pool of mentors from former graduates and share information about the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy with young people who could benefit from our program.”

Class 35 begins July 9, and the deadline to apply is June 21.

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