Youth Challenge graduates 206

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - More than 200 former high school dropouts from across Mississippi are the latest graduates of the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program. 206 cadets from Class XXXIV of Youth Challenge got their diplomas during a graduation ceremony today.

Among the guests was Al Speyer, the head of Firestone Racing. He was on hand to present a scholarship to one cadet...Mark Folks of Oak Grove, and visit with another....Britney Tate of Corinth, who inspired him after he met her during a national Youth Challenge gala a few months ago.

"She had some difficult times in her life, as all the cadets did," said Al Speyer. "Now, you see her standing here, ready to graduate and it's just a transformation. It's inspirational to me," Speyer said.

"Youth Challenge showed me to be myself, they showed me discipline, they all-around helped me with my life...I turned my life completely around," said Britney Tate.

"It's taught me so much about life," said Mark Folks. "It's given me coping skills and it's given me basically everything I've needed to get on in life," Folks said.

Since 1994, more than 6,600 students have graduated from Youth Challenge.

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