By: Sgt. 1st Class Scott D. Longstreet, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
PINEVILLE, La.– The Louisiana National Guard’s Education Programs hosted distinguished visitors from the Department of Defense, Manpower and Reserve Affairs and the Louisiana Military Department for a statewide tour of LANG education programs on Aug. 8-9.
The two-day tour included stops at the Science Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation Space Exploration Prgram at Jackson Barracks, the Youth Challenge Program and the Job Challenge Programs at Gillis W. Long Center, Pelican STARBASE at Esler Field and YCP at LANG Training Center Pineville.
The visiting guests included: Grier Martin, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, Judd Lyons, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Sgt. Maj. Stephan Minyard, Senior Enlisted Advisor, all of the office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, organized under the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Also present were Brig. Gen. Cindy Haygood, assistant adjutant general of the La. Army National Guard, Lt. Col. Kenneth Paul, LANG Education Programs director, Lt. Col. Jackie Manton, LANG Education Programs deputy director, and Command Sgt. Maj. Troy Barron, LANG Education Programs senior enlisted advisor.
The group first toured the STARBASE facitlity at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.
The Department of Defense STARBASE is a premier educational program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. LANG’s STARBASE locations focus on motivating fifth grade students to learn and explore science, technology, engineering and math opportunities.
Students have the opportunity to attend one of the three LANG STARBASE locations in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Pineville.
“Participants attend STARBASE for five days, completing 25 hours of intensive, hands-on STEM educational lessons,” said Mrs. Nancy B. Force, director of Pelican State STARBASE. “The programs can accommodate 20-35 participants per week, per class. STARBASE Jackson Barracks and Pelican State STARBASE in Pineville operate two classes per week, while Bayou State STARBASE in the Baton Rouge area operates a single class.”
“Each academy chooses a customized curriculum from a large offering of peer-reviewed learning opportunities in each STEM area,” Mrs. Force continued. “Math is embedded throughout the curriculum and students use metric measurement, estimation, calculation, geometry and data analysis to solve questions.”
From Jackson Barracks, the distinguished vistors took a short helicopter flight to Gillis W. Long Center in Carville, Louisiana.
Upon arrival at GWLC, vistors were greeted by the GWLC’s Youth Challenge Program director Lt. Col. Barry Riley and Maj. John Meche, director of the Job Challenge Program. After greetings were exchanged, the distinguished visitors quickly transitioned into their tour of the YCP campus.
YCP is a two-phase program led by active and retired military individuals who provide a structured and disciplined environment for cadets to work on life skills and learn the importance of teamwork, discipline, academic excellence and personal growth.
The mission of YCP is to intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year-olds, producing program graduates with the necessary values, life skills, education and self-discipline to succeed as productive citizens. This second-chance program offers young people an opportunity to improve their lives through participation in an innovative alternative school.
The cadets at YCP have two education pathways available, High School Equivalency Test Prep and Course Choice/Credit Recovery. Both pathways allow students to earn Carnegie units during their 22-week cycle.
YCP is a state-approved HiSET provider and during the course of their five-month Residential Phase, students attend daily classes with certified instructors working at their own pace to improve their math and reading skills. Those cadets who meet state-eligibility requirements are provided an opportunity to test for their high school equivalency diploma.
Youth Challenge is also a state-approved Supplemental Course Allocation/Course Choice provider. This is designed for students who are doing well in school and motivated to graduate with their high school diploma. This option is available to students who were referred by their school counselor. The couselor advises on the best courses to meet all the graduation requirements.
After the conclusion of the YCP campus tour at GWLC, the distinguished vistors were given a tour of the JCP campus at GWLC.
The mission of JCP is to provide selected graduates of YCP, ages 17-21, an opportunity to earn a vocational skill, achieve a basic level industrial certification and gain access to entry-level job opportunities that allow them to acquire critical career skills, strengthen pathways to employment and increase future earnings by attending a 22-week residential program at Carville.
“The Job Challenge Program provides associates with career technical and adult education training,” said Meche. “This training leads to industry recognized credentials, college credits and a high school equivalency diploma allowing YCP graduates to acquire critical career skills and strengthen pathways to employment.”
The JCP location in Carville is the only one in the state. “We offer five different trades with multiple start dates throughout the year,” Meche
continued. “This allows recent YCP graduates the opportunity to start soon after graduation. We also offer adult education programs that provide graduates who have yet to earn their HiSET the opportunity to still attain it while attending trade classes.”
After touring the YCP and JCP campuses at GWLC, visitors ate lunch with selected YCP cadets and JCP associates before flying to LANG Training Center Pineville. Once landing at Esler Field airport in Pineville, visitors concluded their visit with a tour of Pelican State STARBASE and the YCP campus.
Since its establishment in 1993, more than 28,000 cadets have graduated from YCP.
“It is always appreciated to have the highest levels of government visit our cadets,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Paul. “Our state continues to invest in our young people. The Louisiana National Guard continues to lead the way by providing opportunities to change lives to both the youth and families we serve. This visit confirms that we are taking the right approach to help foster change.”
Paul asserted the value of visits from beyond our borders. “Mr. Martin and Mr. Lyons share our state’s vision of helping our youth overcome life’s obstacles and are committed to continuing our partnership,” he emphasized.