Photo provided by Washington Youth Academy Director Larry Pierce Jonah Whitmarsh (right) graduates Washington Youth Academy.

Whidbey teens graduate academy

  • Fri Jan 20th, 2017 3:53pm
  • Life

Two teens from Whidbey Island were among 149 cadets who graduated from the Washington Youth Academy on Dec. 17.

Cadets from across the state attend the free residential school, geared at teaching teens discipline and helping them recover credits so they can return to high school to earn a diploma, GED or join Running Start.

The Washington Youth Academy is a division of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program.

Cadets included JONAH WHITMARSH, of Greenbank, a student at Coupeville High School, and SPENCER ARIES, of Freeland, who a student at South Whidbey High School.

With a graduation rate of 90.1 percent, Youth Academy Director Larry Pierce says the Class of 2016-2 had the best percentage to graduate from any class to date.

Cadets can earn up to eight credits — almost a year and a half of high school — in just 22 weeks.

For 2016, the average number of credits earned was 7.8. Cadets also completed 8,181 hours of community service.

by helping to clean a Sept. 11, 2001 memorial, tending to park trails, tutoring youth and donating blood to the Red Cross.

“They’ve learned a lot of new things that have increased and bolstered their confidence, discipline and teamwork,” Pierce said.

The mission of the Washington Youth Academy is to provide a highly disciplined, safe and professional learning environment that empowers at-risk youth to improve their educational levels and employment potential and become responsible and productive citizens of the State of Washington.

New classes start in January with a second class slated for July. Learn more about the program online


Spencer Aries (right) graduates Washington Youth Academy. Photo provided by Washington Youth Academy Director Larry Pierce