NEWS | June 3, 2021

West Virginia Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy Class 56 graduates 73 cadets

By Edwin Wriston West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The West Virginia National Guard’s Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduated 73 cadets as a part of Class 56 today.

 

“One of the absolute best things I get to do as The Adjutant General is to be with our MCA cadets and families on their graduation to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Brig. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “I could not be more proud of all they have achieved, which includes having the second highest rate of cadets earning their High School diploma in the program’s history. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of these young men and women, as well as the faculty and staff who assist them in their transformation while at MCA. This program absolutely changes lives in the Mountain State and I look forward to all the great things our graduating cadets will achieve in the future.”

 

Class 56 has 68 cadets, or 93 percent, graduating the program with a high school diploma. Of those graduating, 58 percent (42 cadets) plan to join the workforce, 12 percent (9 cadets) plan to join the military, 10 percent (7 cadets) plan to attend a vocational/technical program and five percent (4 cadets) plan to go onto a four-year college program. Fifteen percent of the class (11 cadets) plan to participate in the Mountaineer Job ChalleNGe Program after graduation.

 

Class 56 represents 23 different counties throughout the Mountain State, with Kanawha County having the highest enrollment for the course with 14 cadets.

 

Throughout the 22-week program, cadets provided more than 2,309 hours of community service through five different projects, a recognized value of more than $65,898.00.

 

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 4,906 cadets from the program with 1,873 receiving their high school diploma.

 

Award winners from the program are as follows:

 

 

 

 

This award recognizes the Top Over-All Cadet for the entire 22-week residential phase of the ChalleNGe Program.  This Cadet will have demonstrated leadership, academic improvement, and effort in physical training on the Progress Reports.

 

 

ROBERT C. BYRD DISTINGUISHED CADET AWARD

Cadet Louie Gauze

Maidsville, Monongalia County

Son of Jackie Tidwell

 

ADJUTANT GENERAL’S AWARD FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

Cadet Justin Suszek

Parkersburg, Wood County

Son of Kristen Suszek and Justin Suszek

 

LEADERSHIP AWARD

Cadet Justin Suszek

Parkersburg, Wood County

Son of Kristen Suszek and Justin Suszek

 

CITIZENSHIP AWARD

Cadet Brandon Grubb

Winfield, Putnam County

Son of Bo Grubb and Tina Smith

 

ACADEMIC CHALLENGE AWARD

Cadet Zander Hall

Camp Creek, Mercer County

Son of John and Heather Hall

 

MOST IMPROVED CADET AWARD

Cadet Robert Fowlkes

Charleston, Kanawha County

Son of Misti Ashworth

 

“ESPRIT DE CORPS” AWARD

Cadet Mark McCoy

Big Creek, Logan County

Son of Mark and Jessica McCoy

 

“IRON MIKE” AWARD FOR PHYSICAL FITNESS

Cadet Terrence Booker

Fairmont, Marion County

Son of Jessica Plever