Cadets from Baton Rouge were among the 201 students to graduate from the Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program at Camp Minden on Jan. 23 during a ceremony at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
Hannah Knowles, of Luling, was valedictorian and Bickham Crooks, of Gonzales, was salutatorian. Taylor Eschete, of Houma, was Cadet of the Cycle and delivered the commencement speech.
Baton Rouge graduates included Ja’Markus Ardoin, Dallas Bateman, Chasity Cain, Demontae Chaney, Dominic Dunn, Brennan Faber, Branson Gilly, Claysha Henderson, Azrielle Keophommavong, Aaron Little, Caleigh Mann, Shamira Moten, Zachary Northrop, Tyronne Perry, Rickedia Ricks, Alphonse Williams III, Rejay Wilson and Aidan Womack.
Gilly was honored for placing in the academic top 10 percent.
State Sen. Elbert Lee Guillory, of District 24, and state Rep. Harlie Eugene “Gene” Reynolds, of District 10, addressed the graduates.
The class included 32 cadets who took the ACT, 34 percent of whom scored at or above the national average. Ninety-four cadets met state requirements to take the HiSET (formerly GED) exam and 84 passed. Sixty-two cadets participated in a Bossier Parish Community College program and earned a total of 753 transferable college credits before graduating from the five-month residential phase.
“YCP graduations are always bittersweet. Watching the cadets grow, from week one to week 22 is a blessed experience. The journey has been long, and they have earned the privilege to graduate,” said Capt. Jason Montgomery, director of YCP at Camp Minden.
The Louisiana National Guard YCP’s mission is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16- to 18-year-olds, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education and self-discipline necessary to succeed as productive citizens, a news release said.