Joe P. Asher
The Appalachian ChallaNGe Academy opened its doors to the first class of cadets on Sunday.
Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy Director Croley Forester explained things were going smoothly.
“We’re happy to see all the cadets coming in. They’re coming in from all over eastern Kentucky and the process is going smoothly,” said Forester. “Right now everything’s going great. The kids are getting settled in a little bit going through the process, getting issued uniforms.”
Dexter Day, Program Director for the academy, was also on hand for opening day.
“We’ve got quite a few here, we’ve got a bus that met 18 more kids from Lexington, so we’ve actually got quite a few and we’ve still got more coming in,” said Day.
Day explained what is in store for the incoming recruits.
“The first phase of the program, a two week phase, that’s almost like a probationary period,” said Day. “Once they complete the two week hardcore challenge they go into their educational (phase) for the next 20 weeks. That 20 week program is our residential phase. Our residential phase is basically where they’ll stay here, they’ll get their education, they’ll get their discipline, structure, hygiene, and leadership,”
According to Day, once a cadet is through the program they have a good chance of success.
“They’ll go back to the community they were in and hopefully they’ll be productive citizens,” said Day. “We’ll have a mentor with them. That mentor will stay with them for one year after they graduate.”
Day explained that a mentor “is someone that’s over the age of 21, with no felony record.”
“If a child needs somebody to talk to, a lot of times they have issues with mom and dad, so that mentor is someone besides mom and dad that they can talk to,” said Day. “We try to get coaches, teachers, law enforcement, preachers — we try to get it all. We want positive role models for the kids. We want to keep them motivated and keep them on the right track. ”
According to ChalleNGe Academy Recruiter Mario Cima, the academy’s first class currently consists of 78 cadets with a possibility of more arriving. Cadets have until 4 p.m. on Friday to check in.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org