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Inside The Gates: Military Youth Academy helps promote social skill sets for students

After a long 22 weeks of schooling, the cadets at the Alaska Military Youth Academy will graduate on June 16, ready for the next chapter in their lives.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 2:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After a long 22 weeks of schooling, the cadets at the Alaska Military Youth Academy will graduate on June 16, ready for the next chapter in their lives.

The Academy based out on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson works specifically with youth between the ages of 16 and 18. Academy Director David McPhetres served in the U.S. Air Force for 31 years.

“For the cadets that are here, the at-risk piece that we have is they’ll make the decision because they’ve fallen behind in their classes, maybe they’re behind on credits, maybe they don’t have time, missed a year or so of school,” McPhetres said.

As cadets work to reclaim their lives, the program allows cadets to regain credits and potentially gain either a GED or high school diploma. Depending on the credits earned, McPhetres said cadets could receive both certifications.

McPhetres said this program is especially important due to the impact COVID-19 has had on youth’s social and academic development. He said that many youths seem to be 2 years behind. The program, he said, is exactly what today’s youth needs.

“Our class goes 16-18-year-olds who really delayed some of that development and some of the coping skills, some of the things like anger management or frustration, and how they manage themselves in social settings has been affected,” McPhetres said.

Although the program is 22 weeks long, McPhetres said that people can see a difference the program has made for cadets by the third week.

“They go from not knowing that left face means turn to the left, to going and marching themselves all around campus and meeting time hacks,” McPhetres said.

As cadets learn new levels of self control and self management, the program allows them a safe place to learn these skills, make mistakes, and learn from them.

The next round of classes starts on July 20. The deadline to apply is on July 19. Those interested can apply by visiting the Alaska Military Youth’s Academy’s Facebook page for an application.

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