MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The mission of the Youth Challenge Academy program is to help at-risk teens overcome the odds. This weekend, hundreds of young cadets did just that,
by walking across the stage.
At an emotional ceremony, the Fort Stewart class held its 40th graduation ceremony in Macon on Saturday. The rigorous National Guard five month program gives Georgia high school dropouts the opportunity to reclaim their lives and receive their diplomas.
"Many of them thought that they would never be able to walk across anyone's stage, so when they were able to walk across the stage, when they themselves and maybe other people in their lives told them they could not, it's a great thing" said Fort Stewart Youth Challenge Academy Program Director Roger Lotson.
According to Lotson, the program has about a 75% success rate, allowing students to earn a GED and train for a job after graduation. Next year, the academy will team up with the Provost Academy Georgia, a virtual public charter school, to expand its reach.