Local News

Tar Heel Challenge Faces Its Own

Posted March 21, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The Tar Heel Challenge, a program aimed at redirecting teens who have dropped out of school or been expelled, is facing its own challenge: funding.

The program is run by the National Guard, and is a mixture fo boot camp and high school. Success in the program nets kids their General Equivalency Degrees (GED), but it also builds self-esteem, teamwork and life skills.

That's the good news. The bad news is that for the second year in a row, the program's budget has been cut, this time by half.

Cadet Supervisor Dale Autry says he is trying to concentrate on running the program, not letting the money woes overwhelm him.

One hundred cadets at a time participate in the program, which lasts 22 weeks. Cadet Jessie Hendrix says he has been favorably impressed by all the extra aspects of the program, because he expected it to be strictly concentrating on the GED.

An abandoned high school in Clinton serves as headquarters.

Tar Heel Challenge administrators hope to bring the program's effectiveness to the attention of the North Carolina General Assembly, because 80 percent of high school dropouts eventually get in trouble with the law unless they have a program like the Challenge.