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Discover Challenge Academy planning graduation Saturday

Since the summer, 135 area cadets have been in the military-style Discovery ChalleNGe Academy at Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop.

The 22-week residential program involving at-risk students – both boys and girls, ages 16 through 18 – is a joint effort of the San Joaquin County Office of Education and the California National Guard.

Made up three platoons, those in the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy haven’t had much contact with friends and family outside of Family Day at Dell’Osso Farms on Sept. 21 and the occasional day passes.

On Saturday morning, they’ll have a chance to celebrate their accomplishments at the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy Graduation at the Bob Hope Theatre, 242 E. Main St., Stockton, beginning at 10 o’clock.

Through the academy, they’ve learned leadership, cooperation, and academic skills while building self-esteem, pride and confidence in a highly structured environment, according to SJCOE.

This will be the seventh graduating class.

Along the way, they’ve earned 65 high school credits to go along with at least 40 hours of community service.

Graduation ceremony, in addition, will recognize those cadets who have earned enough credits to obtain their high school diplomas along with those who will be returning to their high school.

SJCOE added that all cadets will continue being involved in the Academy via the year-long mentorship program.