Program helps Victor teen get back on track
MICHELLE MCCONNAHA – Ravalli Republic
Cadet Edward Moore graduated from the Montana Youth Challenge Academy, June 20, with a solid direction for his life. "It was the best thing I could have done," Moore said.
Cadet Edward Moore graduated from the Montana Youth Challenge Academy recently with a solid direction for his life. The five and a half months he spent at the academy in Dillon provided the stamina, direction and self-confidence for Moore to plan success for his life. Before the academy, Moore,17, was a Victor student who had quit school.
"I dropped out of high school and I realized my life was going down the drain," said Moore. "I decided if I stayed, I wouldn’t be going anywhere and I wanted to go somewhere. My uncle works at a Youth Challenge in Southern California and my parents went to visit him, then researched Montana Youth Challenge, and before I could back out I signed. "It was the best thing I could have done."
Moore said the academy got him in shape and taught him discipline, respect and time management skills. "Now people look at me with ‘wow, this kid’s got a lot of potential’," said Moore. "The look I get from people is different – it’s a great feeling." "His confidence and outward look has matured," said MYCA admissions counselor Clay Cantrell. "When you look at him, you can tell he has that maturity – he has the ability to take life head on. It’s cool to see."
Moore said that before his time at MYCA he was anti-social, lacked confidence, didn’t do much and was out of shape. The academy follows a military model, but is not a formal boot camp. "The hardest thing was continuing when everything said I couldn’t," he said. "When my body ached from PT [Physical Training] and I knew the next day we had another PT session and knowing I’d have to get up at 5:30 and go to school. Just to keep pushing myself was probably the hardest." He lost 50 pounds and learned to run. "Now I can do a mile in seven minutes – that is a great confidence boost," he said.
Moore will be attending Hamilton High School for his junior and senior years. He is considering participating in cross country, wrestling and track for the Broncs. At MYCA, he had support from his family and friends in Victor and while in Dillon he made more encouraging friends and had a very positive counselor. "They really helped me out on the bad days when I was feeling homesick," he said. Academically, he earned credits and has a plan for his future. "I got three and a half credits, but it was mostly five days a week with a core class in the middle – physical fitness, personal hygiene, service to the community, life coping skills, responsible citizenship and academic excellence." Math is his favorite subject and he’s looking forward to being academically challenged at HHS. "This is coming from someone who dropped out and wasn’t planning to finish high school," said Cantrell. "Now, he’s transitioning in to high school and having the ability to finish and do what he wants to."
After his two years of high school, Moore would like to go into the Air Force and learn jet propulsion mechanics. "I’ve always been interested, but have never had the chance to get the hands-on," he said. "I hope to get some mechanics classes and do some job shadowing. I’m meeting with Mr. Kimzey, the principal, and getting everything set up for next year – his brother was a sergeant at the youth challenge for a while." Moore’s summer plans include attending Montana Conservation Corps for a month and then he will return to the Bitterroot Valley hoping to find employment for the school year. "I’m interested in a cooking job," he said. "I was a cook and got certified while at MYCA." The last week of MYCA focuses on vocations and cadets job-shadow and have hands-on opportunities. "Moore did Culinary Arts," said Cantrell. "He got to participate with UM Western chefs, got that certification and learned some tips and tricks about cooking."
Moore is a solid spokesman for MYCA and said it was a good use of his time. He recommends it to everyone who is struggling and plans to make a presentation about MYCA at Victor schools. He said he believes in it and knows friends who would benefit. "I wouldn’t have changed it for anything," he said. "I feel a lot better because I’m physically fit – now I can do a pushup. When I went there I had to do pushups on my knees. It’s just a big confidence boost." "It turned his life around," said Cantrell. "He has a great future ahead of him and he has the skills, abilities and confidence to stand on his own two feet and take life head-on and make tough decisions. Even if he stumbles he knows how to get back up and dust himself and move on from there."
For more information about the Montana Youth Challenge Academy visit their website at youthchallenge.mt.gov.
Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or firstname.lastname@example.org