MONTGOMERY, WV (WOAY) – The inaugural cadet class at Mountaineer Challenge Academy South in Montgomery honored veterans on Wednesday by hosting a sunrise service on campus.
All 70 cadets marched outside, hoisted the flags and honored the veterans in attendance. Montgomery Mayor Greg Ingram says it was moving to see their discipline and respect after only being in class for a month.
“Pride. I think it’s pride and that our youth are not lost,” he said. “They just need to be molded. They just need to be taught. You know, so many times we as parents sometimes fail to do some of the right things, but when you go into an organization like the Challenge Academy you learn those things that maybe we missed as parents or maybe as leaders in our community, they’ll learn in this environment.”
In the quasi-military environment, high school students who are at-risk for not finishing school come in, participate in the 22-week program and can finish with a high school diploma.
Director Paul Perdue says he partnered with the city to organize their first public event because he wants the new cadets to fully grasp the sacrifices made by those who have served the country.
“What I hope for them to learn is that what they’re going through now is important because it paves the way for their future and that future is there because of veterans in the past,” Perdue said.
Typically there is not a big Veterans Day service in Montgomery, and so the Challenge Academy wanted to bring that to the community and also create a safe way of introducing themselves to Montgomery during these challenging times.
“This ceremony would run chills down your back,” Ingram said. “If you were here to see the discipline of these young people and see what they’ve learned thus far in this program. It’s a wonderful program. Montgomery’s proud to be the home place of the Mountaineer Challenge Academy South.”
MCA South plans to continue this tradition every year.