Commonwealth ChalleNGe Cadets earn GEDs early, accepted to apprenticeship program

Commonwealth ChalleNGe Class 49 Cadets (from left) McAllister, Pate, White and Fuzi pictured before class at ABC, Inc. in Norfolk, Va. (Photo by Alex Dye, Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Four Cadets from Class 49 of the Virginia Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy earned their General Equivalency Diplomas, and were accepted into an apprenticeship program with the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

Cadets McAllister from Richmond, Pate from Newport News, White from Norfolk and Fuzi from Manassas earned their GEDs over a month before Class 49 officially graduates, and will have the opportunity to train in HVAC, carpentry, pipefitting, construction and many other trades and crafts.

“ABC Builders, Inc. has provided a great opportunity for these Cadets to leave Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy with a bright future,” said Deborah Thomas, Career Counselor at Commonwealth ChalleNGe. “The Cadets are excited and motivated about the things they are learning, and look forward to building a skill set they need to be marketable and successful in the workplace.”

Upon completion of the apprenticeship, these Cadets will have the opportunity to secure outstanding full-time employment at one of many trades employers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and Hampton Roads.

The four Cadets also scored the highest, on their initial placement tests, of anyone in their apprenticeship class.

Cadets attend a 22-week Residential Phase designed to help at-risk youth from across the state improve their academics, leadership skills, job skills, life coping skills and more. Cadets work towards earning their GED, or up to seven high school credits to apply to their high school diploma.

After Graduation from ChalleNGe, Cadets either go back to high school to finish their diploma, go to college, trade school, community college, enter the workforce, or join the military. Part of the ChalleNGe success involves building relationships with Virginia schools and businesses, as well as the different military branches.

“Partnerships are a joint effort in securing every Cadet’s future,” explained Thomas. “Building relationships with outside resources is essential to ensure Cadet placement, and success, after their time at ChalleNGe is finished.”

The Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy, which is part of the National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Program, and is sponsored by the Virginia National Guard, has been in operation since 1994. The program is located at State Military Reservation Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va, and has graduated approximately 5,000 Cadets since its inception.

The ChalleNGe Academy uses a quasi-military style environment to enforce discipline, behavior modification and inspire self-confidence in Cadets. Cadets also learn to be part of a team, and work with other Cadets from across Virginia.

Activities available to Cadets in the ChalleNGe program include educational field trips throughout the state, sports teams, community service projects, ASVAB testing, career fairs and more. The program is tuition-free, and is available to all 16-18 year old teens in Virginia who qualify.

The Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy has two classes per year. One class begins in March, and one in October. For more information on the ChalleNGe program, call 757-491-5932 ext. 231, 235 or 254.