Mountaineer ChalleNGe Cadets First to Earn Diploma

June 13, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2013 class of cadets graduating from Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy will be the first program completers to earn high school diplomas when they graduate on Friday.

On Thursday, the state Board of Education learned more about the program for students at risk of dropping out of high school. Until this year, cadets who completed the program only qualified to receive a GED. Now, if they meet all established high school graduation benchmarks, they can receive a high school diploma from their home high schools.

"This is good news for students who took advantage of the second chance Mountaineer ChalleNGe offered to complete their high school education," said state Superintendent Jim Phares. "They acknowledged the mistakes they had made but did not let the behavior define them and now they are ready for the next life challenge."

The board also approved revisions to Policy 2444.4, Issuance of the State of West Virginia General Education Development (GED) Diploma to allow Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy to become an Option Pathway Program. The change will allow students to complete their high school equivalency and earn a diploma from their high school of origin. Changes also would allow students age 16 in state correctional or residential facilities to complete the option pathway and earn their high school diploma if a long-term education plan is in place.

Operated by the West Virginia National Guard, the mission of the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is to train and mentor selected at-risk students using eight core components in a structured military-style environment. Some students drop out before completing the rigorous program, which focuses on academic excellence, life coping skills, job skills, health and hygiene, responsible citizenship, service to the community, leadership, and physical fitness. The 22-week program for 16- to 18-year-olds is housed at Camp Dawson in Preston County.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

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