Joe P. Asher
The first class of cadets has completed the initial two-week phase of the program at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy.
Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy Director Croley Forester explained the cadets are doing well.
“Every one of these kids is right where they need to be,” said Forester. “In two weeks’ time, I’ve seen them come in rowdy, no discipline. The amount of change in two weeks has floored me.”
According to Forester, the first two weeks of the program, referred to as “hardcore,” are meant to instill discipline in the cadets.
“We put them through hardcore, have them march, have them do pushups. We teach them to come to attention, teach them how to salute. We generally do all this to get compliance so when one of the instructors or cadre ask them to do something when they get in the academic phase, they’ll do it,” said Forester.
Forester explained the cadets will be changing classifications upon graduating from the hard core phase.
“We call it a challenge phase,” said Forester. “They are graduating today from cadet candidate to cadet. For them that’s a big thing.”
“We’re going to have a graduation ceremony at ten and present them with their graduation certificates. This evening we’re actually going to let them watch a movie and have some popcorn. They’ve earned it. They’ve come a long way in two weeks,” said Forester.
With the initial two-week challenge completed, the cadets will move into a new phase of the program.
“Starting Monday, we go into an academic phase where they spend five hours a day in the classroom. They still have to continue with their marching and they have to continue with their physical fitness, but not all day every day. They get into the academic phase that lasts for 20 weeks until they graduate,” explained Forester.
Forester pointed out that cadets must also perform some service to the community in order to complete the program.
“They have to do forty hours of community service, so we’ll be helping with things like the river cleanup. We’re going to go up on the hill here to KCEOC (Kentucky Communities Economic Opportunities Council) and help them with their building cleanup and general stuff like that,” said Forester. “But it’s mostly an academic phase.”
Local resident Tim Engle, who lives near the academy, has watched the cadet candidates perform for the first two weeks of the program.
“I’ve seen them from day one out here,” said Engle. “It’s sad that the whole county can’t see what we can see.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org