KINGWOOD, W.Va. – The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy program graduated its 5,000th cadet Nov. 19, as 106 members of Class 2-2021 completed the program at Camp Dawson.
“Today, we mark a significant milestone in the history of the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy. With 106 cadets, class 2-2021 helps us surpass more than 5,000 total graduates since the program began in West Virginia in 1993,” said Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard. “Over the course of the past 28 years, the MCA has been a launching point for 5,070 young men and women who have graduated the program and gone on to make our communities, our state, and our nation a better place.”
Class 2-2021 has 96 cadets, or 91%, graduating with a high school diploma. Of those graduating, 56% plan to join the workforce, 15% plan to join the military, 10% plan to attend a vocational/technical program and 5% (five cadets) plan to go to a four-year college program. Nine percent of the class (10 cadets) plan to participate in the Mountaineer Job ChalleNGe Program after graduation.
Class 2-2021 represents 32 different counties throughout the Mountain State, with Kanawha County having the highest enrollment for the course with 16 cadets.
Throughout the 22-week program, cadets provided more than 3,864 hours of community service through 18 projects, a recognized value of more than $113,700.
The mission of the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is to train and mentor selected at-risk youth to become contributing members of society using the Eight Core Components in a quasi-military environment during a 22-week residential and one-year post-residential follow-up program. It is a free volunteer program for West Virginia youth ages 16 to 18 years old who are educationally at-risk.