Area cadets graduate from Youth Challenge Program _lowres

Photo provided by Megan Ready -- The Louisiana National Guard's Youth Challenge Program graduated 219 cadets during a ceremony at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium near Camp Minden on July 25. Max Day, of Zachary, and 11 cadets from Baton Rouge were among the graduates.

The Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program graduated 219 cadets during a ceremony at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium on July 25.

Local graduates included Max Day, of Zachary; and Sean Hatley, Carlesicia Johnson, Demarquis Johnson, Kit Kleinpeter, Keimon Knighten, Paul LeDuff, Brad Levi, Mia Jenea Moore, Kevin Renard, Joshua Shropshire and Steward Spencer, all of Baton Rouge.

Louisiana Sen. Gerald Long, of District 31, delivered the commencement address.

Through partnerships with Bossier Parish Community College and Associated Building Contractors, the Youth Challenge Program offers students additional opportunities to further their educational goals.

“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, program director. “The Youth Challenge Program changes lives of both cadets and staff. I’m grateful just to have the opportunity to impact the lives of these young adults.”

The mission of the Louisiana National Guard’s Youth Challenge Program is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16- to 18-year-olds, providing graduates with the values, life skills, education and self-discipline necessary in order to succeed as productive citizens, a news release said.