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One hundred and sixteen cadets from 40 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy in a noon ceremony Saturday, December 17th at Mauston High School.

The Challenge Academy reshapes the lives of at-risk 16- to 18-year-olds. It uses a structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets’ academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline.

After graduating from the 22-week residential phase of academy training, cadets are paired with hometown mentors who offer guidance and encouragement in pursuing their new direction in life.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is scheduled to address graduates along with their parents, relatives, mentors, and friends on hand to celebrate their success.

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program currently operates 40 programs in 28 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Nationwide, more than 145,000 teens have graduated.

The Wisconsin Challenge Academy will begin its next class January 19, 2017. Applications are available for future classes by contacting the Challenge Academy at (866) 968-8422 or visiting their website.

News media representatives are welcome to attend or contact the Academy for interviews with graduates. The graduation ceremony begins at noon in the Mauston High School gym, 800 Grayside Ave., Mauston, Wisconsin. The Challenge Academy drill team will perform at 11:15 a.m. Graduates come from 40 Wisconsin counties: Adams, 3; Bayfield, 1; Brown, 10; Chippewa, 5; Clark, 1; Columbia, 1; Crawford, 3; Dane, 5; Dodge, 2; Door, 1; Douglas, 1; Eau Claire, 2; Fond du Lac, 2; Jackson, 1; Jefferson, 2; Juneau, 2; Kenosha, 2; La Crosse, 2; Lincoln, 1; Manitowoc, 1; Marathon, 3; Menomonee, 2; Milwaukee, 18; Monroe, 2; Oneida, 2; Outagamie, 2; Portage, 1; Racine, 1; Rock, 14; Rusk, 2; Sauk, 1; Shawano, 1; Sheboygan, 3; St. Croix, 1; Vilas, 1; Walworth, 2; Washington, 2; Waukesha, 5; Waupaca, 1; Winnebago, 4.