Nicholas Gray of Minden was awarded the rank of 5 star during the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program graduation ceremony Saturday in Shreveport.
Louisiana Senator Gerald Long, District 31, delivered a commencement address to the class.
Louisiana Representative Henry L. Burns, District 9, was also present at the ceremony.
Through partnerships with Bossier Parish Community College and Associated Building Contractors, The Youth Challenge Program now offers students additional opportunities to further their educational goals.
This graduating class from Minden includes 73 cadets who participated in the BPCC program. 40 students had the potential to earn up to 21 transferrable college credits, and 33 students had the potential to earn up to 15 transferrable college credits before graduating from the five-and-a-half month residential phase. In total, more than 1,137 transferrable college credits were earned. Additionally, in partnership with Associated Building Contractors, 42 cadets completed a 90-hour NCCER course, which allows them to become certified in basic construction technology.
This graduating class includes 10 cadets who were awarded the rank of 5 star, which is the highest rank a cadet can achieve. These cadets have excelled in all aspects of the program and have been selected as leaders among their peers. Five star cadets included: Jhon Bohorquez of Mandeville, Edna Brown of Benton, D’Shawna Burgess of Denham Springs, Carter Burke of Sulpur, Tyler Dufrene of Boutte, Nicholas Gray of Minden, Claude Hayes Jr. of Boyce, Dakota Maffit of Jennings, Taylor Perry of Alexandria, and Palmer Prejean of Lafayette.
Of these top cadets, D’Shawna Burgess of Denham Springs was selected as Cadet of the Cycle, and delivered the commencement speech during the ceremony.
CPT. Jason Montgomery, director of YCP at Camp Minden stated, “YCP graduations are always bitter sweet. Watching the cadets grow, from week one to week twenty two is a blessed experience. The journey has been long, and they have earned the privilege to graduate. The Youth Challenge Program changes lives, of both cadets and staff. I’m grateful just to have the opportunity to impact the lives of these young adults.”
The mission of the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year-old adolescents, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline necessary in order to succeed as productive citizens.
The Youth Challenge Program offers young people an opportunity to improve their lives through participation in an innovative, alternative school. The Youth Challenge Program is administered to participants at no cost, and all needs such as meals, bedding, classroom instruction, and uniforms are provided free of charge.
Since 1994, program participants have donated more than 5 million hours of community service, and more than 100,000 cadets have graduated nationwide, with more than 19,600 being from Louisiana. Typically, Louisiana graduates approximately 1,400 teens a year from three locations: Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, Camp Minden near Shreveport, and The Gillis W. Long Center near Baton Rouge.