196 to graduate Saturday from Class 57 of National Guard’s Youth Challenge

Youth Challenge Academy to graduate Saturday its 57th class of cadets
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 9:32 PM CST
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Nearly two hundred cadets are scheduled to graduate Saturday from the latest class of the Mississippi National Guard Youth Challenge Academy.

A graduation ceremony for Class 57 is set for 10:30 a.m. at the Forrest County Multi-Purpose Facility.

Youth Challenge is a 22-week, military-style course for at-risk youth or other students.

“It changed me in different ways,” said Adonis Phillips, a 16-year-old cadet from Meridian.

“I came here with an attitude and an anger problem and everybody saw that and everybody started talking to me and I changed.”

Cadets can get their GEDs or learn job skills.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident about myself. I got my GED, my high school diploma, so that’s what I came here to get, because I wasn’t in school before I came here,” said Brooklyn Hall, a 17-year-old cadet from Mendenhall.

Organizers said 196 cadets are expected to participate in the ceremony.

“It’s made me realize a bunch of things about myself,” said Dailya Ward, a cadet from Gulfport.

“I’m smarter than I thought I was. It gave me a lot of good opportunities. It sent me to college, so I’ve finished one semester of college. I got college hours.”

Ward will graduate as salutatorian for Class 57.

More than 10,000 cadets have graduated from the Youth Challenge Academy since 1994.

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