Florida National Guard Director of Public Affairs, Major Caitlin Brown, reported to Historic City News that 144 teens from its 36th class of at-risk youth will graduate tomorrow through the Florida Youth Challenge Academy during a military ceremony.
In this voluntary program, 16 to 18-year-old high school dropouts, or those at risk of quitting school, are immersed in a rigorous five-and-a-half-month residential phase loosely mirroring the U.S. military’s basic training.
“The Academy promotes adult responsibility, values and basic lifestyle changes by providing a demanding, highly regimented, motivational environment focused on academic excellence, community service, job skills, leadership and physical fitness,” Brown reported.
During this residential phase, cadets have the option to participate in credit recovery, to return to high school, or to work toward earning their high school diploma through the GED Testing Service. Upon graduation from the in-residence phase, each cadet is matched with a mentor from the community who provides personal guidance and support.
In order to successfully complete the program, all students are required to either pursue higher education or gain full-time employment.
Since Florida’s program began in 2001, 5,094 cadets from 63 of Florida’s 67 counties have graduated from the residential phase of the program.
FLYCA cadets have contributed nearly 375,000 hours of service to Florida communities, producing an economic benefit equivalent to approximately $2.5 million. Cadets and their families will attend the graduation being held at the Thrasher Horne Center for the Arts, located at 283 College Drive in Orange Park on Tuesday, June 11 at 2:00 p.m.