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Tarheel Challenge Academy helps reshape lives of at-risk teens

Posted June 9

— Since 1994, the North Carolina National Guard has run the Tarheel Challenge Academy.

They use the quasi-military style program to reshape the lives of young people who have either dropped out of school or were having trouble with the law. Some the students have experienced homelessness or have lived on their own.

On Friday, the class of 2017, which included 88 graduates, turned their tassels in Sampson County. At the start,107 individuals volunteered for the rigorous 22 week program. They lived on campus at the school in Salemburg.

"(I) was running around town being a teenager doing rough stuff that I shouldn't be doing," Blake Terrell said.

Dr. Shari Herring helped to shape the students into who they are today.

"We have the facility for them and now that they have graduated, they are eligible to go into the workforce and provide shelter for themselves and one student is going into the military," Herring said.

Jareta Lutena decided to go back to school.

"I'm going to try to join FTCC, go to college and maybe join the Army," he said.

"It means a lot to men," said Kyrah Kee. "I've accomplished something that a lot of other people probably didn't have a chance to do. So, it really means a lot."

Terrell is now looking forward at his next steps.

"I'm going to go to Stoney Hill Fire Department, be a volunteer there and then go straight to the Marine Corps," he said.

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