Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image
Press Release
November 06, 2006
Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge Program changes life of Gladstone teenager
Gladstone teenager turning life around at OYCP
A last chance
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Bassett 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Gladstone resident Michael Goins knew he had to make a change.
 The 16-year-old high school junior was failing his classes and was told he would be held back a year.
"I was slacking off in school and not showing respect to parents, teachers or myself," Goins said. "I had already tried summer school and that didn't work. I figured this was the last chance I had to do something with my life."
That "last chance" came in the form of the Oregon Youth Challenge Program, an alternative high school in Bend run by the Oregon National Guard.
Goins started the five-month school in July, and now he is one month away from successful completion.
"It's a wakeup call. Welcome to reality," Goins said to prospective OYCP students and their parents at Saturday's orientation day. "I've picked up a lot of discipline. I now have the discipline to do my homework and get my work done before going and having fun."
OYCP is a military-model school approved by the Oregon Department of Education. Students are eligible to earn eight high school credits, a GED or a high school diploma.
The program consists of three phases: a two week pre-challenge period consisting of military indoctrination, physical development, discipline and structure, followed by a 20-week academic classroom instruction period, and a final-phase, 12-month mentor period where the student is returned to the community to implement goals and objectives developed while in the residential phase, according to OYCP's Web site.
Goins, who struggled to make Ds in public school, has seen his academics improve dramatically. OYCP students must complete all areas of the curriculum with an 80 percent or better.
"It's a lot easier to ask questions here," he said. "My grades have definitely improved. In regular high school, I never understood fractions, but now I'm helping others to understand them."
The youngster said OYCP has also helped him gain a whole new appreciation for his family.
"The toughest part is being away from my family. I really miss them," he said. "There is no way I would be able to get through this without their support. I've learned not only respect for myself, but also respect for all those around me, my parents and teachers."
Larry DeMarr, one of the school's many cadre members, said Goins is "one of those kids you can absolutely tell the program has benefited them greatly. He's a squared-away kid; an articulate, intelligent young man."
OYCP holds two classes a year of up to 150 students. The program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Defense and the state of Oregon, costs parents nothing.
To be eligible for the program, a student must be a high school dropout age 16-18 and an Oregon resident.
"There are a huge variety of people here," Goins said. "Half the people in my platoon I would have never hung out with in high school, but here they are my family for five months. They pick me up when I am down and I pick them up when they are down."
Goins is scheduled to graduate Dec. 13. The next OYCP class begins Jan. 17.
Gladstone resident Michael Goins, 16, tells prospective Oregon Youth Challenge Program students and their families about OYCP on Saturday. Goins is set to graduate from the alternative school in Bend on Dec. 13.
Contact Info:
Oregon National Guard Public Affairs