Blaine teen graduates from the Washington Youth Academy

Kayla Townley shares a few words with Washington Governor Jay Inslee during the Washington Youth Academy graduation ceremony on December 17. Photo courtesy of the Washington Youth Academy.

One local teen joined 149 cadets in graduating from the Washington Youth Academy in December. Students from throughout Washington, including the academy’s 2,000th cadet, comprised the graduating class.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Kim Wyman were in attendance to celebrate the students’ achievement on December 17. Four teens from the area, including Blaine local Kayla Townley, graduated from the academy.

A division of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, the Washington Youth Academy is intended to provide at-risk teens with a disciplined, safe and professional learning environment. It’s a free residential school that allows students to recover credits in order to pursue a GED or other high school education program.

Youth Academy director Larry Pierce said the class of 2016 had the highest graduation rate since the program first started. To boot, cadets also racked up a total 8,181 hours of community service during the 22-week program.

“They’ve learned a lot of new things that have increased and bolstered their confidence, discipline and teamwork,” Pierce said in a statement. “And, of course, our cadets invest a significant amount of time, energy, effort and a wide range of emotion in the daily life of the Academy. It’s not easy and sometimes just coping with the challenges and the stresses is taxing enough, but the cadets, you overcame these challenges.”

To learn more about the program, visit

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