Local News

Students Get a New Lease on Life

Posted July 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Hundreds of kids drop out of school every year in North Carolina. While most people give up hope of those kids having a bright future, one North Carolina program challenges dropouts to succeed.

For the last three years, a program called Tarheel ChalleNGe (The "NG" symbolizes the National Guard's role in the program.) has helped high school dropouts to turn their lives around. On Friday, the 74 students enrolled in the program gathered in Clinton to get their diplomas and to celebrate their new outlook on life.

Through the tear-filled eyes of Gale Hughes, the images of her only child receiving a high school diploma were a dream come true.

The 22-week program combines boot camp and high school. Since 1994, the majority of the program's graduates have gone to college or taken full-time jobs.

But at the beginning of this year, organizers feared that this might be the program's last year -- Tarheel ChalleNGe's budget was being cut in half. However, for graduates like Joe Webb, the program obtained funding for the next five years. It was a rocky road for Webb, but Friday's ceremony was worth the long journey.

Anyone who might be interested in enrolling in Tarheel ChalleNGe can call 1-800-573-9966 for an application. This year the program has received more than 200 applications from prospective students. More people have applied this year than ever before.