LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A first-of-its-kind graduation took place on Friday, Dec. 16, for some Pennsylvania kids who will now have a head start on life.

The Keystone State Challenge Academy (KSCA), which was started in 2019, is a program that aims to improve the lives of at-risk teenagers.

The program held its first-ever graduation ceremony, where 18 cadets walked across the stage on Friday, Dec. 16.

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“We celebrate your success. We are proud of your accomplishment. We know without a doubt this is just the beginning,” said a member of the KSCA at the graduation ceremony.

The program is a 22-week residential program for teenagers ages 16 through 18 who live in Pennsylvania. Students in the program learn about self-discipline, get exposed to a structured living experience, and have access to educational resources.

“A lot of the program is taking you out of your environment and putting you in a new one to help you focus,” said Tyson Knapp, a KSCA graduate.

Cadet Tyson Knapp came to the program with his brother, Trenton. Now, they are graduating together.

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“I feel great about it. I’m glad I went through here. I am glad I got through this program and I just feel great about it because I am back on track about where I want to be in my life. It feels great honestly,” said Trenton Knapp.

The 18 graduating cadets represented 13 Pennsylvanian counties. Now, they will all be paired with mentors for one year to help them find careers, get into college, and start the rest of their lives.

“It’s the cadets. There are so many of our young people in America, in Pennsylvania especially, that just need the opportunity to reset,” said Steve Rossman, director of the KSCA.

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More teenagers will get that chance soon, as 125 new students will join the KSCA in January 2023.