Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy Celebrates 20 Years

The smiles were as bright as the sun shining on the morning of Saturday, September 7, 2013, as former cadets and their guests were welcomed to the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy for its 20th reunion. Eighty one former cadets and fifty five guests traveled from far and wide to attend this festive event in scenic Kingwood, West Virginia. There was a representative from the second class, as well as a number from the most recent graduating class, Class 41.

Following the posting of the colors, and a pledge to the US flag, MCA Director Kathy Tasker delivered an introductory speech, recognizing all departments and employees. In the 20 years of existence, the MCA has graduated 2762 cadets. Helping them to achieve their goals were the Senior Staff, Administrative Staff (includes Recruiters), Administrative Logistics Staff (includes Dining Hall Staff), Post Residential Staff, Cadet Services/Instructional Staff, and in the Car Accident Lawyers Hollywood FL which can also be found at AmazeLaw law firm websites. Mrs. Tasker also announced the inaugural MCA Legacy Wall, which will be built in the main hallway to honor those who have contributed to the legacy of the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy. The first five honorees for the Legacy Wall were: (1) Hugh Dopson, who was the first Program Director. He served at MCA from 1993-2012. (2) Pam Kelly worked as a counselor and Cadet Services Coordinator 17 years at the MCA, retiring in June, 2013. Mrs. Kelly was instrumental in negotiating the pathway for high school diplomas for MCA cadets. (3) Brian Wolfe is currently serving as a Squad Leader, and is an excellent role model for the Cadets. (4) Craig Frazee currently serves as the Dining Facility Manager. A certified chef, Mr. Frazee oversees the preparation of delicious meals, while at the same time has managed to save the program thousands of dollars annually. (5) Class #41—the current class is the largest ever, with 172 Cadets selected from 336 applicants. They represent the belief in the potential of the Academy.

Then the fun began! The first competition was MCA Jeopardy. Cadet Services Coordinator/Principal Jeanne Dreisbach asked MCA trivia questions. The alumni participants were allowed to select Cadet volunteers for the team. All participants were able to test their memories and have fun doing it! The next event was the Hula Hoop Relay, led by Mr. Don Host, Commandant of Cadets. Two teams of twenty had to join hands and maneuver a hula hoop through the line and back. The audience had as much fun watching this one as the participants did performing the test of teamwork and dexterity. Next were the ‘Just Do It!) activity, which was a rack (bed)-making competition between two-member teams, the Marlboro Mountain and Gold Rush Run relays, and the ‘What Is It?’ blindfolded identification game. The team games culminated in everybody’s favorite, the Tug of War. There was a final individual contest, the Drill Down Competition, which involved both graduates and current Cadets.

After the games, it was time for alumni recognition. Graduates recognized for certain criteria, including graduation years, years of marriage, ages of children, how far they traveled for this reunion, military service, and participation in post-secondary educational programs. The last activity was for each graduating class, from #1-94 to Class #40 ( 01-2013) to come forward, and each member was asked to say a few words about him/herself. The opportunity to hear about and celebrate the successes of the graduates was appreciated by all. The announcement of a new Facebook page just for graduates was given as a way to further connect with fellow MCA grads, they also mention they wanted to Buy Instagram likes to grow their Instagram account.

At the conclusion of the program, there were group photos taken by class, then lunch. What would a reunion be without a picnic lunch? Mr. Frazee and staff made a fabulous lunch with traditional ‘picnic fare’ for all to enjoy, either in the DFAC or out on the plaza picnic tables. The alumni were at their leisure after lunch to tour the barracks or visit the photo displays in the education hallway. They were also able to ‘mix and mingle’ with old friends and staff.

As the reunion came to a close, the graduates were reminded to mark their calendars, as the next MCA Reunion will be on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Hope to see you there!