ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - After five months of military life at Camp Beauregard more than 200 cadets are anxiously awaiting graduation on Saturday.
"It's been a long time coming," said YCP Cadet Kody Firesheets.
Due to Firesheets' struggles in a traditional school setting, his parents thought of the Louisiana National Guard's Youth Challenge Program.
The long running program offers young people the opportunity to improve their lives in an alternative sort of school on LANG bases.
"It was them saying I should come here, but after awhile I realized it was really the best thing for me," Firesheets said.
But, what really sealed the deal for was the new Course Choice Credit Recovery Program.
"When I leave here I'll be able to go right back into high school as if I never left," Firesheets said.
YCP and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered up to offer a new track next to the HiSET (High School Equivalency Diploma). The Credit Recovery Program differs because it helps students catch up with their classes and earn credits. So, when the cadets leave YCP they can join the classmates they left behind five months prior.
"I should be going back to Bossier High in my 12th grade year," said YCP Cadet Theodore Smith.
This is the second class of cadets to graduate after the pilot began in October.
"It's a normal school day," Smith said. "So we would go for four hours, lunch time, come back for about three and then get out of school."
This is the second class to graduate since the pilot, in which seven cadets successfully completed the program.
Rapides Parish Director of Secondary Education Dr. Dana Nolan said no time is lost.
"When they graduate from YCP and return to our schools, then we transcript those grades and they move on just as if they have been in another actually brick and mortar school," Dr. Nolan said.
Instructor Debra Drayton said before credit recovery, cadets would have to add an extra year to high school.
"But, coming to YCP that won't be necessary," Drayton said. "They called up and got in their correct grade while they were here."
Both Firesheets and Smith also excelled in all aspects of the program, earning the highest rank of Five Star Cadet.
"Sit there, be quiet, do the right thing," Smith said.
And after some quality family time, Fresheets can't wait to take on his senior year.
"Of course, I'll be a whole different person going in, but educationally I kept up with my entire class," Firesheets said.
For more information on the Youth Challenge Program visit the attached link.