Former Alaska Military Youth Academy Student Honored


by Jessica Gruenling

ANCHORAGE, Ak--In 2013, 775 students in the Anchorage School District dropped out of school. These were students in grades 7-12.

"Some are bored, they're not turning in their work so they're failing their classes, we have some that have gotten in to trouble with the law, some who have  run away from home, some who just don't want to be in the public school system anymore, and then there's always the drugs and alcohol and other peer pressures, Deborah Morton, Mentoring Supervisor."

And while numbers have declined in recent years it is still an epicdemic affecting kids in schools all over Alaska.

Celebrating its 20 years of existence the Alaska Military Youth Academy is helping to combat this issue. Students in the academy take all core classes in order to complete their GED or get their high school dipoloma.

"They get a little bit of the discipline being in a quasi- military environment a long with their basic academics, Morton."  

The learning doesn't just stop when students leave the academy. They are tracked tracked 12 months afterwards to make sure they are doing a minimum of 30 hours of productive work a week.

One of the biggest components of the program is being given a mentor.

"Teenagers are notorious for not wanting to listen to their parents so this gives them someone that's not a parent but has experience in life to help them get back on track, Morton."

This year for the first time in the Alaska programs existence a former student, Lena Illig, was named a Natiton Guard Youth Challenge Ambassador for her dedication to bettering her future and volunteer work through out the Anchorage community.

"The academy really developed me for the challenges that I will face as an adult and provided the resources and tools for me to be successful after I graduated, Lena Illig, Youth Academy graduate."

Last week she was honored in Washington DC where she met congressional leaders and celebrities. She shared her story with all who were in attendance.