KINGWOOD, W.Va. -- The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is marking a milestone: Its 40th class graduates today, and many cadets will receive their high school diplomas instead of a GED.
The Kingwood academy's mission is to train and mentor at-risk youth to become contributing members of society.
State Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares praised those who chose to finish their high school educations. He says they acknowledged their past mistakes but didn't let their behavior define them.
A high school diploma opens many doors for graduates that had previously been closed, including higher education and military service.
Academy officials say the students learned the equivalent of more than four semesters in just five months.
Forty-six percent of them have qualified for Promise Scholarships.
The latest class includes 76 graduates from 28 West Virginia counties.