Last Chance High School

Last Chance High School

A quasi-military academy run by the National Guard gives at-risk teens a second chance at graduation. (WP)

They come here hoping to change their lives. Freestate Challenge Academy in Maryland is a 17-month program for at-risk high school students. The program allows students to earn a GED outside of a traditional high school setting.

The first two weeks — dubbed “Hard Core” — is like boot camp filled with strict militaristic routines including reveille at dawn, marching in formation and eating MREs in the D-fac. The program includes a 5-month academic course followed by a year of mentoring.

This two-part video series by the Washington Post follows a group of “candidates” as they struggle through the program’s first two weeks to earn their new title of “cadet.”

The videos incorporate interviews with educators and students, including a 16-year-old boy who hopes Freestate will help him turn around his life and a 16-year-old girl who hopes the strict discipline will help her overcome an attitude problem.

CHANNEL: Washington Post

Video by Whitney Shefte
Photos by Katherine Frey