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Kuchler, Kenneth
/ Categories: Cadets

Belgrade Youth Learns Leadership Skills at Montana Youth Challenge Academy

Seventy four Cadets graduated during the Commencement Ceremony for Class 37, Montana Youth Challenge Academy, which was held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 on the campus of the University of Montana-Western in Dillon, Montana.

Cadet Jaden Pruitt of Belgrade was looking for a way to better himself and to set himself back on the right track. After looking at many options, he decided on the Montana Youth Challenge Academy! During his 22 weeks at Youth Challenge, Cadet Pruitt excelled in the Cadet Leadership position of Platoon Sergeant as well as the elected JMG student government position of Platoon Representative. He stated that he "feels he has learned great leadership and followership skills and is much better at working with teams, as well as having a greater respect for others." During Challenge, Jaden also earned Academic Excellence by successfully attaining the HiSET (formerly GED). On graduation day, Cadet Pruitt further distinguished himself by receiving the Challenge Award for Leadership for his Platoon. At the point of enrollment in the Academy, all Cadets are required to have a volunteer Mentor who agrees to be a resource and provide additional guidance and support to that Cadet, both during and following the Residential Phase of the program. Mentoring is crucial to the success of MYCA and helps keep the Cadet focused on their original placement plan following graduation from the Residential Phase of the Academy. Cadet Pruitt’s Mentor is Ron Kurschner, who stated he chose to become Jaden’s Mentor because he "has always wanted to help people and potentially impact a person’s life positively" and that "being a Mentor is an opportunity to help shape someone’s life by setting a good example for them to follow." Ron also stated that he "has seen many positive changes in Jaden, such as maturity and personal growth that have resulted in a greater appreciation for his family as well as made him more respectful."

The Montana Youth Challenge Academy (MYCA) is a two-phase, academic-based program located in Dillon, Montana on the campus of the University of Montana-Western. The Academy’s focus, is to assist youth, ages 16-18, by helping them to develop the academic and life skills necessary to be successful. Following graduation from the Residential Phase, students enter a 12-month Post Residential Phase where they maintain on-going contact with a Mentor in their community who provides additional support.

MYCA is cost-free to families and conducts two sessions each year with the next session beginning on January 16, 2018. For more information, please contact MYCA at 1-877-367-6927 or visit their website at

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