Louisiana National Guard Youth Challenge Program graduates class

BOSSIER CITY - “My son probably wouldn’t have graduated if he hadn’t come here. He learned a lot here in school and even more about himself,” said Pam Blanchard. Her son, Cadet Chaz Lisotta, was one of 117 graduates from Camp Minden’s Youth Challenge Program. The graduation ceremony was held at the First Baptist Church of Minden Saturday, July 26.

Cadet of the Cycle Jeffrey Venezia summed up the 22-week program saying. “We had no idea of all the mazes and obstacles that awaited us, but it didn’t take long for the cadet to let us know the Youth Challenge lives up to its name, and the challenges would be both physical and mental.” Cadet Venezia from Slidell was one of eight cadets who achieved the rank of five star. The other five-star cadets were Arthur Arcneneaux from Carencro, Blake Arceneaux from St. Martinville, Todd Bergeron from Arnaudville, Jasmine Morgan from Bastrop, Ethan Ricks from Belle Chase, Colton Ruybal from Bossier City and Ashley Thomas from Slidell.

As a group, the class participated in over 6,289 hours of community service working with Habitat for Humanity, Louisiana Blood Services and feeding the homeless at the Shreveport/Bossier Shelter to name a few.

Three cadets enlisted in the LA. National Guard, Jacob Clark and James Krupka from Doyline and Ross Durocher from New Iberia. Cadet Ashley Thomas enlisted in the United States Army. All four enlistees will receive college tuition to the school of their choice.

The American Legion Patriotism awards went to Anthony Huckaby from Baton Rouge and Brittany Swanner from Calhoun. Merrill Lynch scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each were awarded to Shawn Mancik from Baton Rouge and Heidi Deichman from Metairie. Sean Coody from Jonesboro and Joseph Glover received Wal-Mart Scholarships in the amount of $1,800 each.

Carol Andrews from the Monroe police department explained this is her third time to mentor a cadet. “This is a chance to give back. It is an honor and privilege for me, it humbles me,” Andrews said. She has even gotten other officers interested in becoming mentors for the program.

In closing, Cadet Venezia told the graduates “we must look to the future, begin to set new goals and use the knowledge we’ve gained. We’ve proven to ourselves we can do anything, let’s prove it to the world.”

The following cadets are from the local area: Daniel B. Fontenot, Kodey L. Hebert and Jacob B. Perron, all of Ville Platte.

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