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Local teen graduates from challenge program

A Decatur County teen is among more than 122 youth graduating from the Georgia National Guard’s Youth Challenge Academy at commencement ceremonies held in Macon, Ga., on Dec. 20 at the Macon City Auditorium.

Takela D. Wilson is a member of Class No. 2008-4 of the YCA program based at Fort Stewart.

Georgia’s Youth Challenge is a 22-week residential youth program for teens aged 16-18 who have dropped out of school. The military-styled program provides teens with the opportunity to complete basic academic courses leading to a high school diploma or GED. The voluntary program also provides teens valuable life skills training emphasizing academic, physical fitness and personal discipline.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle delivered the commencement address to the graduating class before hundreds of families and friends attending the graduation ceremony.

The Georgia National Guard operates two Youth Challenge Academy campuses in Georgia, the original campus at Fort Stewart near Savannah, and a second campus at Fort Gordon near Augusta that opened in 2000. To date, more than 8,000 formerly “at-risk” teens have graduated from the Youth Challenge Academy program at the two Georgia campuses.