Four Bend youth graduated from the Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, a statewide alternative high school, on Wednesday, June 13 at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.
Graduation indicates the completion of the 5 1/2-month residential phase of the program. The class featured cadets from 58 high schools and 18 Oregon counties. The ceremony marks the 43rd time a class has graduated from the biannual program.
With 126 cadets, Class 43 is one of the largest graduating classes in OYCP history. In December 2011, Class 42 graduated with 132 accomplished cadets, the largest class in program history.
Bend graduates and credentials include:
? Rafael Meliton Cordova, credits
? Aidan Hannon, credits
? Wesley Rollins, credits
? Sarah Conner, credits
Scholarships and honors:
? Cordova was one of 12 honor students.
?The Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a demanding and extremely fulfilling endeavor for the youth who participate,? said Oregon State Rep. Jason Conger. ?I congratulate all of today?s graduates for their significant accomplishment. Their dedication to bettering their own lives and their community is inspiring.?
Of the graduates, 21 received high school diplomas and 10 earned GEDs. Ninety-five cadets were able to earn enough credits through OYCP to return to high school and graduate with their classes.
In addition to Rep. Conger, Bend-La Pine School District Deputy Superintendent John Rexford; Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone; Bend City Council Member Kathie Eckman; and Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton were also in attendance. The event drew hundreds of family members, friends and community supporters of the graduating cadets.
As part of their training, all 126 cadets earned their food handler permits, as well as first-aid and CPR certification. In addition, 112 donated blood through the American Red Cross. Cadets set a goal of giving 100 units of blood and gave 122. The class also provided 11,787 hours of community service, averaging more than 94 hours per cadet. Cadets volunteered at numerous Bend civic events and worked for local nonprofits, including Special Olympics Oregon, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, Deschutes County Fairgrounds, Oregon State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service. The estimated total value of their service was $103,721.
The OYCP program is cost-free to cadets and their families and has successfully graduated 3,625 cadets since its inception in 1994. OYCP is one of 33 nationwide National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Programs and has been recognized as one of the premier programs in the country.
Cadets work through two phases beginning with an intensive 5 1/2-month residential phase during which they cultivate life-coping skills, perform community service work and attend academic classes. While in the program, cadets also develop life plans to outline clear and organized steps for continuing along the path of success after graduation.
This phase of the program is followed by one year of mentoring with an adult who is trained by the program and selected by the cadet. During this time, the cadets receive encouragement and support in implementing their life plans as they re-enter their home environments.
Since 1994, more than 4,800 cadets from urban and rural areas of Oregon have entered the OYCP. The voluntary 17 1/2-month program provides youth who are at risk of not completing their high school education, both male and female, ages 16 to 18, with a second chance to succeed. Details about the Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program are available at www.oycp.com or by phoning (541) 317-9623.