Youth program reaches to smaller communities

Chris Day
Craig Savage

Thunderbird Youth Academy is expanding its search for at-risk teens to rural areas of the state, Recruiter Craig Savage said.

At-risk teens are everywhere, Savage said, and Oklahoma’s school funding problems have made it more difficult for smaller school systems to identify troubled students and get them back on track.

That’s where the Thunderbird Youth Academy can help. The quasi-military program requires students to live on its campus in Pryor for 22 weeks. They will be taught the program’s eight core objectives:

• Academic excellence

• Life coping skills

• Job skills

• Health and hygiene

• Responsible citizenship

• Service to the community

• Leadership and followership

• Physical fitness

“We serve the entire state, and have helped kids from every corner of the state,” Savage said.

Classes are free with sessions starting in January and July, Savage said.

It’s a voluntary program, Savage said. The court system doesn’t order youths to go to Thunderbird Youth Academy. The Academy doesn’t allow students with felony charges attend the school.

However, some of the students may have gotten into trouble with the law or have discipline problems at their public schools.

Students can work toward their high school diplomas or GEDs, he said.

A typical day starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. Students are supervised 24-hours a day.

After the students complete their session, Academy counselors stay in touch and help the students stay on the path to success, Savage said.