Jun 16, 2017 - From staff reportsOn Saturday, Angel Burson of Riveron was among 41 cadets who walked across the stage for their graduation at Wheatland High School from the Wyoming's Cowboy Challenge Academy.
The High School Equivalency Certificate is only one of the academic options WCCA graduates have. Along with the HSEC, cadets are offered Apex, an accredited credit recovery system that helps the cadets catch up and return to high school once they have graduated the program.
"The best part about the program is the opportunities we've had," 16-year-old Burson said. "We get college credits for a lot of stuff we've done. I was in a culinary class so I've been able to learn how to make a bunch of homemade food."
In addition to academics, the program also had cadets exercising on a regular basis. The physical training regimen throughout the 22-week duration is used to help cadets take control of behavior issues and to foster team building.
Career-wise, the program offers cadets the chance to travel to Casper College many Saturdays where they were taught a variety of skills and trades ranging from culinary, to heavy machinery, to carpentry.
The cadets also routinely performed community service and partook in several programs aimed at increasing their knowledge of future opportunities, such as familiarization with the military.
Now, not only is Burson a WCCA graduate, she's a huge proponents of the program.
Burson said she hoped other Wyoming at-risk youth would give Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy a chance.
"I'd tell potential cadets that when you first get there, it's really, really tough," she said. "But if you can push through it and do the best you can, it gets easier. If you just do what you're supposed to do, and get it done, it can change your life."
College credits, jobs, self-esteem, academic opportunity and friends are just scratching the surface of all the things Burson relayed about the program.
"You feel healthier being away from distractions and bad influences, eating right, getting exercise. It makes you want to take the right path in life," Burson said. "If I didn't come here, I don't know where I'd be. It definitely made a change in my life."
Burson is enrolled in college courses at Central Wyoming College, going into welding and business.
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