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October 15, 2013 > Grizzly Youth Academy offers a second chance

Grizzly Youth Academy offers a second chance

By Miriam G. Mazliach

Sometimes students can use a helping hand and need options outside traditional schools. For that reason, the California National Guard established the Grizzly Youth Academy Challenge Program 20 years ago for at-risk and struggling kids; to help them succeed in a disciplined and supportive environment.

The five month residential charter high school program is designed for youth - both boys and girls - ages16-18. Academies are located at San Luis Obispo and San Diego.

Students apply to the program to regain lost academic credits and remedy problems at traditional school sites including truancy, suspension or expelling. By enrolling participants have an opportunity to earn up to 55 credits toward a high school diploma and graduate with their class.

Run military style, the voluntary supervised 5-month boot camp instills self-esteem and leadership qualities. Scholarships are available. Sessions run from January-July and July-December. After applying, students choose a mentor, an adult who will provide ongoing advice and support to help them succeed and complete their credits.

Once accepted, students create an action plan to achieve their goals, even beyond graduation. Classes are held Monday through Thursday, with field trips on Fridays, volunteer activities in the community on Saturdays. Sundays are reserved as a personal day. Teachers work closely with the students, assisting them in areas of need or learning issues. ÒThe program has a military structure, but itÕs directed to minors,Ó says Colon.

After completion of the five month program, students can return to graduate with their original school if they so choose. College scholarship help and assistance is also provided. The goal is for students to learn to make better decisions and develop the ability to make positive choices in their lives.

Lourdes Colon, AAUW (American Association of University Women) member, and Grizzly Youth Academy Chapter President, is passionate when speaking about the program. She currently serves as mentor to a Grizzly Academy graduate. She says that mentors must be willing to commit to the student, provide encouragement and help as needed throughout the academy and beyond.
Parents and students interested in finding out more about the Grizzly Youth Academy are invited to attend a free informational program.

Grizzly Youth Academy presentation
Wednesday, Oct 23
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Unitek College
4670 Auto Mall Parkway, Fremont
(510) 677-2940

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