Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy celebrates graduation

By Chase Jordan – cjordan@civitasmedia.com

Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduates receive praise from family members after exiting a graduation ceremony.

Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduates receive praise from family members after exiting a graduation ceremony.

For many weeks, cadets from Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy were seen in gray uniforms while providing service throughout the community and preparing for their futures. On Friday, more than 80 wore blue caps and gowns as they graduated in front of proud family members and supporters.

Before the turning of their tassels, Tanner Holder optimistically talked about the future with his classmates who faced hardships and challenges.

“The past is now irrelevant, the opportunities are present and the time to make your name throughout the world is just beyond that door,” said Holder, an academic honor graduate. “Today TCA has given us everything we need to make it through the door. All that is left for us is to turn the knob, open the door and take that everlasting step to the future.”

The celebration for the academy in Salemburg at the Sampson County Exposition Center, concluded a 22-week in-residence program organized by North Carolina’s National Guard. It includes academics and physical training aimed a reclaiming troubled high school dropouts and giving them life skills to be productive citizen. Cadets were enrolled in a

The Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy Color Guard post the colors during a Friday commencement event as graduates observe.

The Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy Color Guard post the colors during a Friday commencement event as graduates observe.

GED diploma program during the academy.

“Don’t let the pessimist tell you that you can not do something, it’s rudimentary, ” Holder said while continuing his speech. “Instead be an optimist. Make your future distinctive …

As the commencement speaker, retired Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray told the 88 graduates in Class 46 that they were not quitters. While giving words of encouragement, the commencement speaker described life as a “dash.”

“All that we do between birth and death is considered the dash, ” Gordon-Bray said. “Within your life, the dash, you don’t have complete control of what happens to you. But you have 100 percent control of how you respond.”

Prior to this academy, 22 weeks ago, Gordon-Bray said the candidates allowed events in life to dictate their actions.

“But with the help of you in this audience, they made adjustments so they could improve themselves and enter the doors of the academy,” Gordon-Bray. “Ladies and gentlemen, the people here in front of you have decided that their

Retired Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray addresses graduates and audience members during the Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduation.

Retired Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray addresses graduates and audience members during the Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduation.

going to take control of their dash.”

He continued said the graduates are going to make new history, before praising them for academics, job skill training, financial management, physical training and community service, which included more than 7,500 hours as a class. After the graduation, cadets will participate in a one-year mentoring process.

Prior to the commencement, a banquet was held Wednesday to award many cadets for their contributions in the program. During the Friday event, Matthew I. Defranco-Colson earned the Gerald A. Rudisill Jr. Leadership award and the Directors award went to Kenyon T. Pelzer, Cadet Corps Commander.

Retired Col. Edward W. Timmons, director of Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy, said he was proud of the graduates and their efforts within the last five months. While giving many words of motivation, he reminded them to strive and to not be afraid of failure.

“A strong person picks themselves up, learns from their mistakes, avoids repeating the same mistake and moves on,”

Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduates march into a celebration ceremony.

Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy graduates march into a celebration ceremony.

Timmons said.

He reminded the cadets to stay focused on their goals and that graduation is not the finish line.

“Hopefully, you’ll reflect on the thing you learned during the past 22 weeks and instill them in your future endeavors,” Timmons said. “Always dream, believe and achieve.”

Discussion - 7 Comments
  1. Gary Copeland

    Jun 29, 2016  at 1:17 pm

    I would like to fiind out about information on the school , and the cost. Thank you a concerned father on losing my son. Could you please mail me information. 205 Betty Drive Burgaw, NC 28425 or call me at 910-259-6837

    Reply

    • EWRicard

      Jul 06, 2016  at 1:17 pm

      You need to call us at 800-573-9966 and ask for Mr. King class starts 10 July 2016.

      Reply

  2. Teresa Torres

    Jul 07, 2016  at 1:17 pm

    Hi I need help with my 15 year old son, using drugs being disrespectful not following house rules please help me my name Teresa Torres, I being calling you guys but I don’t get an answer or the phone is busy my number is 9199060903 ttorres71@hotmail.com

    Reply

    • EWRicard

      Jul 08, 2016  at 1:17 pm

      Sorry, but your son is only 15. The ages here is between the ages of 16-18. Must be 16 upon start of class and we start 10 July 2016 new class next class will be in New London and that will be posted in a few months.
      Ernie

      Reply

  3. Tonya wells

    Jul 29, 2016  at 1:17 pm

    I have a 16 yr son he is disrespectful and does drugs and drinks he runs the road and has sex .he comes and goes when he wants I ground j I’m he runs away .please help me I don’t know what elese to do.9105278795

    Reply

    • EWRicard

      Aug 01, 2016  at 1:17 pm

      There is much that we can do our class has already started but in New London they are accepting application. I will say this this is a drug free program and we do test and if he comes up hot he can’t be accepted into the program. You have time for the next class for New London but he has to stop now taking drug. Also this is a volunteer program. We are willing to help but the individual has to want us to help and he has to want to change. All I can saw is call Brandy Bradshaw at New London Academy 704-961-9591.
      Ernie

      Reply

  4. Dawn Joyner

    Mar 03, 2017  at 1:17 pm

    My son, Cadet Joyner was in class 46 and I’m so thankful for this program. He truly misses everyone there!!! This was exactly what he needed!! He’s asked if he can come back for a visit? Let me know if that’s possible!! Also, he just completed the final test needed to join the Army. That is his next step!!! So I say thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

    I’m sure there is no problem for him to visit the ChalleNGe, all he has to do is call and make arrangement. If you would have him go on the website and look for testimonials and fill out one for us we love to have one. Were all proud that he’s doing something with his life.
    Ernie Ricard
    Webmaster/MISO

    Reply

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