Latest ChalleNGe Academy graduates had to clear pandemic-related hurdles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The next Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is scheduled to begin later this month.

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, W.Va. adjutant general

Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard said academy Class 54, which recently graduated, won’t soon be forgotten for the hurdles cadets had to clear because of the pandemic.

“Eighty cadets graduated from the program. We have 33 that have currently passed all of the requirements for their high school diploma,” Hoyer said. “Despite having every excuse to quit the program or not put forth the effort to finish, these cadets met the challenge head on and have showcased their abilities to handle any situation that comes their way. I have no doubt they will each go on to do wonderful things that contribute to the success of the State of West Virginia.”

Members of the class were sent home from Camp Dawson in March because of the pandemic. ChalleNGe Academy staff then worked with the class members virtually to help advance toward graduation.

Hoyer said the majority of the cadets will continue into the next academy class that starts later this month or go into the Guard’s Jobs Challenge Initiative.

Plans remain in the works for a new ChalleNGe Academy to be conducted on the former WVU Tech campus in Montgomery.

“In the near future the governor will be announcing updates on our Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy south program which is moving along exceptionally well despite the pandemic,” Hoyer said.

The ChalleNGe Academy is a training and mentor program for at-risk youth. There have been nearly 4,800 cadets graduate from the program since its inception in 1993.

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