December 16, 2009: One hundred and one cadets from 40 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy in a noon ceremony Saturday, Dec. 19 at Mauston High School. The Challenge Academy re-shapes the lives of at-risk 16-to-18-year-olds. It uses a structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets’ academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline.
After graduating from the 22-week residential phase of academy training, cadets are paired with hometown mentors who offer guidance and encouragement in pursuing their new direction in life.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (3rd District) is expected to address graduates along with their parents, relatives, mentors, and friends on hand to celebrate their success.
Four cadets who graduated in December 2008 will receive $1,000 scholarships to the colleges of their choice from the National Guard Youth Foundation. They are Tamara Campbell, Waunakee; Justin Maldonado, Elkhorn; Kostyantyn Pavlenko, Niagra; and Steven Swenson, Stoughton. Maldonado is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Gateway Technical College, while Pavlenko is studying for a culinary arts degree at Le Cordon Bleu College in Minnesota. Swenson and Campbell are attending Madison Area Technical College for degrees in criminal justice and cardiology, respectively.
Twenty-nine states offer similar programs nationwide. More than 85,185 teens have successfully completed National Guard youth programs since 1993. More than 87 percent of cadets who finish the program receive their high school equivalency diploma (HSED), and more than 80 percent stay out of trouble with the law.
The Challenge Academy will begin its next class Jan. 14, 2010. Applications are available for future classes by contacting the Challenge Academy at (608) 269-4605.