Alaska Military Youth Academy graduates 165 cadets

Alaska Military Youth Academy cadets launched their berets into the air at the conclusion of their graduation ceremony on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage. The second-largest graduating class ever — with 165 cadets — received encouragement from both Sen. Dan Sullivan, via video, and keynote speaker Gov. Bill Walker to "Never give up!" Following completion of the 22-week residential phase of the ChalleNGe Program based on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, cadets now move back to their communities but, for the next year, are required to maintain performance and reporting standards, including weekly contact with mentors, pursuit of employment or education, and submission of a monthly report to staff. Tears shed by family members as they dropped students off 22 weeks ago "are now tears of joy," said academy director Bob Roses. A new pre-apprenticeship program beginning Aug. 29 will provide 30 cadets with the opportunity to return to the academy for four weeks of vocational training.

Erik Hill

Erik Hill was a longtime photographer for Alaska Dispatch News, and before that, the Anchorage Daily News.