By Air Force Capt. Holli Nelson, West Virginia Air National Guard
| West Virginia National Guard | Dec. 14, 2018
The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduated 173 cadets as a part of Class 51 on Dec. 14, 2018, the largest graduating class in MCA history. (Photo by Courtsey Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy)
The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduated 173 cadets as a part of Class 51 today, the largest graduating class in MCA history.
Class 51 had 158 cadets, or 91 percent, graduating the program with a high school diploma, the highest percentage in Academy history. Of those graduating, 46 percent (80 cadets) plan to join the workforce, 20 percent (35 cadets) plan to join the military, 17 percent (16 cadets) plan to attend a vocational/technical program and 16 percent (28 cadets) plan to go onto a four-year college program.
"Today is an exceptionally important day for these young people who have achieved something truly remarkable in graduating from the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy," said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. "Not only have these cadets shown courage and commitment in their lives, they’ve also set a standard for achievement in graduating as the largest class with the highest percentage of high school diploma recipients. I cannot overstate how proud we are of their accomplishments and look forward to their future contributions to the great State of West Virginia."
Class 51 represented 33 different counties throughout the Mountain State, with Kanawha County having the highest enrollment for the course with 35 cadets.
Throughout the 22-week program, cadets provided more than 8,614 hours of community service through 118 different projects, a recognized value of more than $212,690.
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.
Since its inception in 1993, the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy has graduated 4,360 cadets from the program.
Award winners from the program are as follows:
ROBERT C. BYRD DISTINGUISHED CADET AWARD
Cadet Jacob Moore
Mineral Wells, Wood County
Son of Jason and Heather Moore of Mineral Wells and Catherine Knopp of Parkersburg
ADJUTANT GENERAL’S AWARD FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
Cadet Duncan Weaber
Clarksburg, Harrison County
Son of Lucas Weaber of Clarksburg
Cadet Jordan Glessner
Wheeling, Ohio County
Grandson of Trudi Glessner of Wheeling and son of Jessica Glessner of Wheeling
Cadet Jacob Wilmer
Lewisburg, Greenbrier County
Son of Sensca and Tina Wilmer of Lewisburg
ACADEMIC CHALLENGE AWARD
Cadet Braden Kesecker
Martinsburg, Berkeley County
Son Taleesha Kesecker and Brad Kesecker of Martinsburg
MOST IMPROVED CADET AWARD
Cadet Jordan Terrell
Son of Gwendolyn Cole of Martinsburg
"ESPRIT DE CORPS" AWARD
"IRON MIKE" AWARD FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS