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A 22 week dream becomes a reality for Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe graduates

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What started as a dream 22 weeks ago for promising young District of Columbia residents will be an occasion for family celebrations tomorrow at the D.C. National Guard Armory. On July 9, 2013, Examiner.com reported on the grand opening of the new alternative for GED completion through the Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe program.

The Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy will hold its first graduation of the new cadet cohort that made the decision to enter the program 22 weeks ago in July of 2013. Tomorrow those young men and women will earn their high school graduation certificates.

Head Counselor McKinley Hayes was happy to acknowledge that the first cadet candidate in July will be among those who successfully completed the program and will graduate tomorrow. In an exclusive interview with Examiner.com on the first day of the challenging program the young woman express a degree of sadness over leaving her family; however, she was determined to stick with the program and to complete. Tomorrow her hard work will pay off.

The graduation program tomorrow will be followed by a mentoring program designed to give the students guidance and support they need after they leave the academy. The leaders who were present for the grand opening included Mayor Vincent Gray, Senator Mary Landrieu, and Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz. Senator Landrieu commended the hard work of the entire staff of the academy in helping the young people to achieve success.

Although the graduation ceremony is restricted to family and distinguished guests, the success of the program has been greatly enhanced by the support of Landrieu who was one of the keynote speakers at the grand opening celebration. At that time Laudrieu said that the program was an investment in the future of the United States of America.

Gray gave an eloquent address at the Youth ChalleNGe Academy and called upon the negative thinkers and those who criticized his early efforts to create a successful youth employment program and his support of education efforts like the ChalleNGe Academy to support efforts to increase opportunity for the youth of the District of Columbia.

Having attended events at the Academy throughout the 22 week program, the present writer saw a transformation in the young people as they made adjustments in their behavior to follow the very structured program.

On Friday December 13, 2013, the young men and women of the District of Columbia will have an advantage that was not there in July. As D.C. National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz said on the first day of their program, “We will march you to breakfast, we will march you to class, and we will march you to study hall.” The cadets did march. However, the lessons they learned were totally in their control and they succeeded. Tomorrow they will be triumphant in gaining the credential that will lead to college, careers, and beyond.

The Capital Guardian ChalleNGe Academy is now accepting applications for the class that will start on Sunday January 12, 2014. For all District of Columbia youth who are looking for an opportunity to accept a challenge for the future call 202-730-1579.

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