Freestate ChalleNGe Academy inducts 151 cadets into Class #41
Above: (From left) Cadets Robert Fry, Say'quon Harrison and Sanfa Kanneh take the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Honor Code during the Crossover Ceremony at the APG South (Edgewood) recreation center July 29.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The Maryland National Guard Freestate ChalleNGe Academy inducted 151 cadets into Class #41 during the Crossover Ceremony at the APG South (Edgewood) recreation center July 29. This is the largest class of cadets at APG since the program began in 1993.

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy gives Maryland teens who have withdrawn from high school a unique opportunity, a second chance at an education. For 22 weeks, cadets ages 16-18 voluntarily live in the academy's residential program, a structured, disciplined, quasi-military environment. Before being accepted into the program, candidates go through an acclimation phase, where the teens adjust to their new environment and schedule and decide if they want to stay in the program.

During the ceremony, the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Director Charles Rose stated that the cadre, teachers and staff fully support the cadets and will encourage them to succeed. Rose added that during the program the cadets' self- esteem will grow when they realize all they can accomplish. The mission of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is to produce program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens.

"You will come out a whole new person," he said. "Anything worth achieving takes hard work."

After the cadets were inducted and congratulated by the staff, they took the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Honor Code. This code is meant to guide the cadet's actions while they are attending the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy. When the cadets take the honor code, they pledge to live honestly, respectfully, and be a good representation of the academy.

After the ceremony, Rose said the academy recently implemented a "Cadet Buddy" program, similar to the Battle Buddy program in the Army. This program was created so that the cadets can motivate each other and help each other adjust to a new routine. For many cadets, attending the academy is their first time away from home.

Rose added that this was the first class to be put to the test by participating in an all-day challenge July 27, during which teens were asked questions about being a cadet from the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadet Handbook. The cadet candidates visited various stations along a 7.5 mile course, and had to complete different exercises at each station.

"It was challenging but it felt good to be able to complete the course," said Tyrick Williams from Washington, D.C.

Cadet Alexus Roscoe from Anne Arundel County said she feels grateful to be in the program.

"I really wanted to come here," she said. "I want to make my mom proud. I want to learn discipline and get a head start on my life. Eventually I would like to be a nurse in the military." "I feel like I made the first step in accomplishing a goal," added Cadet Mignon Boyd, from Washington D.C., who wants to eventually join the Air Force or become a doctor.

Page last updated Tue August 6th, 2013 at 00:00