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Sep 21
A Shelter from the Storm: Second NCNG Tarheel Challenge Academy opens

Story by Sgt. Lisa Vines

NEW LONDON, N.C. -- North Carolina National Guard and local government leaders gathered Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, on the lawn of 215 N. Main Street here, to commemorate the ribbon-cutting of the second Tarheel Challenge Academy (TCA) and groundbreaking for construction of new female dormitories.

This 26 acre campus will operate alongside its Salemburg, N.C. counterpart. A renovated elementary and middle school, the piedmont academy will begin accepting students this November.

“Much like moving into a new neighborhood and a new house, you want to invite your neighbors, families and friends to a housewarming party. We’re now part of the community. TCA West is here,” said Dr. Anthony Dalesandro, the campus director the New London TCA.
North Carolina is one of eight states to house at least two of these programs.

NCNG’s Assistant Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. John Byrd said, “This is the single most value-added program that the North Carolina provides to the community and our state.”
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, the crowd was ushered through a renovated hallway with clean, fresh classrooms to the rear of the campus where a dormitory for female cadets is scheduled to begin construction.

State Employee’s Credit Union (SECU) and SECU Foundation representatives provided a $500,000 grant for the construction of the 60-bed facility.

After the scheduled events, attendees, several of whom were former students of the school before it was repurposed for TCA, were free to tour the hallways and classrooms.
The Tarheel Challenge Academy is a voluntary, quasi-military program for youths aged 16 to 18, with a curriculum focusing on providing young adults with the discipline and life skills necessary to be productive members of society, said Byrd.

North Carolina's Tarheel Challenge Academy began in 1994 in Sampson County. 72 percent of cadets receive their GED. When the New London campus opens, NCNG’s Tarheel Challenge Academy graduation rate will increase from approximately 270 graduates per year to over 500.

“We’re ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sister campus in Salemburg and accept our role in reclaiming the lives of the 16-18 year old youths in the state of North Carolina,” said Dalesandro, “These youths have a new shelter from the storm and that shelter is 215 North Main Street.”

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