Challenger Academy Graduation – Class of 2015
The Challenger Academy began in August 2001. The program was designed to serve and educate students who wanted or needed an alternative route to the acquisition of a high school diploma. Since then, there have been twenty-two graduation ceremonies held in the spring and fall semesters with over 230 students. Many of the graduates have moved forward by pursuing further education, some have entered the military, entered technical school and others have entered the work force. The students realize the importance of a high school diploma and are determined to achieve that goal.
The memory of two former Challenger instructors was honored with a moment of silence during the ceremony. Theda Zellars was one of the original Challenger teachers. She was an LHS teacher and recognized that students in her classroom were smart and bright but because of home life or job would not finish school. She was one of several other teachers that talked about programs where students could earn their high school diploma while working or taking care of a family. She loved her students and would teach them science or math skills or would be the person they would talk to when they needed someone to listen. She had a passion for learning and never gave up on a student. She touched so many lives both students and the people with whom she worked.
Mickey Gilbert began working in the Challenger Academy after he retired from Groveton ISD as principal. His career in education was as a teacher and coach. He was a perfect fit in the Challenger program. He had a way of giving fatherly advice to the students. He would share stories from his coaching days or experiences as an elementary principal. He was concerned about his Challenger students even when he was too sick to come to work. He would send word to make sure a student had finished their assignment. Most of the students did not know he was sick because he would continue to come to work every day to help kids get their work done. He emphasized working hard and getting your dreams in line with your abilities. The Challenger program was lucky to have these two people contribute their talents to the students.