National Guard youth academy graduation set

Georgia teens will graduate Saturday from the state’s National Guard Youth Challenge Academy in a ceremony at the City Auditorium in downtown Macon.

There are 122 people in the graduating class, and they completed a 22-week voluntary program for at-risk youth, according to an academy news release.

The academy, headquartered at Fort Stewart near Savannah, focuses on “academic training, self discipline and the development of important life and work skills,” the release states.

Since teens from across the state participate in the program, the centrally located Macon was selected for the graduation ceremony, said Lt. Col Ken Baldowski, a spokesman for the Georgia National Guard.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will deliver the commencement address, and the ceremony begins at 3 p.m.More than 8,000 high school dropouts have completed the youth challenge program since it began in 1994, some at Fort Stewart and some at a second campus at Fort Gordon.

Some return home to take jobs, while others continue their education or join the military, Baldowski said.