Leading the way: 21 cadets graduating from the Battle Born Youth Academy | Local

ELKO – Twenty-one graduates will now be ‘Leading the Way’, as the first class of the Battle Born Youth ChallenNGe Academy.

Families and friends cheered at the inaugural graduation ceremony on Friday evening as the 2021-2 class entered the auditorium at the Elko Convention Center.

The graduates were dressed in blue caps and gowns and wore masks with “Trailblazer” signifying their designation as First Class.

This concludes their journey which began on July 24, said program coordinator Lisa Williams. “They each brought with them unpacked potential and unspoken dreams, love for their family, and maybe a bit of healthy fear.”

Williams congratulated the cadets and their families, saying that “the courage it took for each of you to trust us is a testament to your courage and your desire to succeed.”

“Tonight we come together to celebrate and support them as they take the next steps on the road to success,” said Williams. “The journey has only really just begun. “

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Cadre’s team leader Jonathan West called the academy a “second chance” for young people who were struggling with problems “before they even had real problems,” such as grades and behavior.

“This graduation is six months of ‘you have a second chance.’ We’re going to show you what law looks like and we’re going to help you through the process for five and a half months,” West explained.

Clark County-based BBYCA admissions specialist Vanessa Pichon introduces the program to high school students aged 16 to 18 looking to recoup school credits.

Graduation night for Pichon meant seeing the results of their six months at the academy for those who live in the Las Vegas area.

“I am extremely proud of all 21 graduates and those from Las Vegas,” said Pichon. “I’m so excited to be here, to see how they’ve changed, what they’ve learned and how they’re going to bring all the successes that they’ve received and learned from here to Clark County.

For graduating cadets, the 21 weeks included a variety of activities focusing on life adjustment and professional skills, community service, academic excellence, physical fitness, responsible citizenship and leadership / monitoring.

Each student has also accumulated 40 hours of community service, contributing to projects led by the Bureau of Land Management and the California Trail Interpretative Center.

In February, the National Guard Youth Challenge Program opened the Battle Born Youth ChalleNGe Academy located at the Elko County Readiness Center near Carlin. They quickly began accepting applications for the incoming class over the summer.

Williams told the public that the cadets’ graduation completed the first third of their overall trip, with more to come. “When we leave tonight, the 2021 class is entering the post-residential phase.”

Cadets will work closely with a mentor for the next 12 months after returning home, receiving support as they complete their education or enter the workforce.

Two of the 21 graduates made enough credit in the past six months to graduate with their class of 2022 in June. Others are on track to graduate with their courses in 2023 and 2024 if they continue to earn credits each year.

Program Director Lauren Shulman said BBYCA’s first class of students turned out to be “phenomenal.”

Battle Born Youth Challenge Academy executive team leader Jonathan West and admissions specialist Vanessa Pichon spoke ahead of the 2021-2 promotion launch ceremony at the Elko Convention Center on December 17, 2021.






“This class has set a standard of excellence that all future classes will aspire to match,” said Schulman. “The students have all had a remarkable journey from self-reliance compliance. “

Throughout the ceremony, graduates were recognized for their progress in physical fitness and the recovery of academic credits.

But it’s the personal milestones and lessons learned that some students said they would take with them.

Imani Tyj Akmal from Las Vegas, who attended the School Credit Recovery, thanked the audience for attending the graduation ceremony during her class speech and observed that the program breaks old habits and forms a new one. anybody.

“You go through all the emotions while you’re here, and it’s organized like that because they want you to fail, they want you to learn from your mistakes,” Akmal said. “This Academy is the best place to fail. They give you the tools to figure out what you’ve done wrong so you can bounce back in great ways. “

Major General Ondra Berry – the adjutant general of Nevada – discusses the importance of education, military experience and the potential of the Battle Born Youth Challenge Academy






Chantal Cruz from Spring Creek spoke after Akmal, thanking everyone involved in BBYCA and her fellow graduates “who finished strong, who made many memories, who had fun while challenging themselves in school. and outside of school “.

For the past six months, Cruz has stated that she “would miss the people, the support [and] the freedom to be able to make mistakes. To learn to make my own decisions, to make mistakes, while still getting up and going. “

The Battle Born Youth Academy is entirely voluntary, noted Cadet Rolando Mendez-Portillo. “I think I speak for the rest of my fellow cadets when I say that coming here was initially a strange and scary thing. “

“No one made us stay, no one made us do push-ups, wake up before sunrise or even run in the cold,” Mendez said. “But we did it, not because we were told, but because we chose to do it.”

Heather Goulding and Grace Nichols, known as the Tsunami Sisters for their efforts to pass fundraising legislation to launch the Battle Born Youth Academy and the National Guard’s Youth Challenge program, discuss their thoughts at the dedication ceremony February 10, 2021.






In addition to learning more about themselves, West said he believed he saw something even more valuable during their time at BBYCA.

“They could see that some adults are taking care of them,” West said.

BBYCA is accepting applications for the next semester which will start on January 15th. However, according to Cruz, the class of 2021-2 set a high standard for future classes.

“We are the first class and we will always be the first class,” she said. “We sprinted to the top and got it right. It’s time to turn the page, to continue living, to continue to evolve for the better. We are the pioneers. We led the way and finished strong.


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