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Youth Academy graduate helping to start JROTC program in Kennewick

A graduate of the Washington Youth Academy is helping to start a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at his high school in Kennewick.

The Tri-City Herald reports that the JROTC program at Kennewick High School has about 75 freshmen and sophomores in the program. To retain federal funding, the program needs 100 participants. Helping to lead the group as cadet colonel is Sergio Contreras, an 18-year-old senior, who during his sophomore year took part in the Washington Youth Academy.  

The Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton is a division of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Established under authority of both federal and state law, the Youth Academy is a state-run residential and post-residential intervention for youth who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out.

Contreras told The Tri-City Herald that his experience with the Youth Academy stoked his interest in a military career and he lobbied for a JROTC unit. Now, the newspaper reports, he’s the senior-ranking cadet in the Kennewick High program and says he and others are gaining a lot from the experience.

“I think this is good, it gives (students) a small insight into what the military is like,” Sergio said.

Read more about the JROTC program

New classes of the Youth Academy in are set to start in January. To apply, visit