REDMOND, Ore. - The Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program graduated its 54th class on Wednesday at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond. The ceremony drew hundreds of family members, friends and community supporters of the graduating cadets from across the state.
OYCP is a statewide, accredited alternative high school that serves all of Oregon. The program, which is operated by the Oregon Military Department out of Bend, helps students who are struggling in school or have dropped out to recover their credits through a rigorous military style residential program.
In addition to academics, the students learn other core strengths such as personal fitness, good citizenship, job skills and self discipline. The students will return home and continue with one year of active mentorship following their graduation.
OYCP is one of 37 nationwide National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Programs and has been recognized as one of the premier programs in the country. The OYCP program is cost-free to cadets and their families and has successfully graduated more than 4,600 cadets since its inception in 1994. The voluntary, 17-and-a-half-month program provides youth who are at risk of not completing their high school education, both male and female, ages 16 to 18, from urban and rural areas of Oregon, with another opportunity to succeed.
Cadets work through a two-phase program, beginning with an intensive five-and-a-half-month residential program during which they develop life-coping skills, perform volunteer community service work and attend academic classes.
While in the program, cadets continue their education, develop life skills and create a plan, outlining clear and organized steps to keep them along the path of success following graduation.
The second phase of the program consists of one year of mentorship. During this phase, cadets receive encouragement and support as they implement their plans to re-enter their home environments.
Dave Stuckey, deputy director of the Oregon Military Department, conveyed his pride in the Youth ChalleNGe Program and the students' accomplishments in a speech during Wednesday's ceremony.
Cadet Ali Alhejab gave a before-and-after picture of his life and the difference the program has made for him.
Details about the Oregon National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program are available at www.oycp.com.