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Old 01-14-2009, 03:45 AM
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Default Ten-Hut Time for Bremerton's New Washington Youth Academy

Kitsap Sun


Atop a hill in West Bremerton, a new school is preparing to give hundreds a kids a second chance.

State and local officials on Saturday celebrated the opening of the Washington Youth Academy at its site near Pendergast Park. The school will house about 150 students from around Washington state who have or are in danger of dropping out of high school.

The 17,000-square-foot campus, next to the National Guard Armory, will provide a place to house and teach at-risk youth from around the state.

Classes begin Jan. 25.

The school is a partnership between the National Guard, the federal government and local entities. The Bremerton School district will provide two teachers.

The school, the 34th of its kind in the nation, is part of the National Guard's Youth Challenge Program.

But Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, said it's not a military academy.

"It's designed to save their lives," he said.

About 20 percent do go on to the military, and 80 percent earn a GED or diploma, Dicks said.

"Today is all about hope, and its about second chances for many of Washington's young men and women," said First Gentleman Mike Gregoire, reading a statement prepared by his wife, Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The governor was scheduled to address the approximately 200 people who attended, but was detoured to the funeral for state Rep. Bill Grant of Walla Walla.

The school is free for students, but they must meet several requirements, such as no felony convictions, drug-free at the time of enrollment and legal residency. Students focus on academics, leadership skills, life and job skills, community service, health and fitness.

In the program's 12 years, more than 70,000 students have graduated, according to the Youth Academy.
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