Alternative education programs see increase in applications during pandemic

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MONTGOMERY, WV (WVNS) — As normal education became anything but during the COVID-19 pandemic, alternative education programs, like Mountaineer Challenge Academy, saw an increase in applications.

Mountaineer Challenge Academy is an alternative education that focuses on putting at-risk students back on track to graduate. MCA South Director Paul Perdue said the pandemic played a part in the increase.

“It definitely is especially now with COVID-19 and things have changed and online schooling and those kinds of things, those traditional roles don’t work as well for everybody,” said Perdue.

Perdue said he hopes the pandemic is nearing its end, but he believes even after students fully return to school, they will still see an increase in applications since the pandemic had a lasting affect on some students’ education.

“I think eventually it will get to that point as time goes on and more kids start to get introduced to online schools and those kind of things, even though they are already trying to get back into school now some of them are already falling behind on their credits,” said Perdue

Perdue said a student’s interest in the academy is not always due to struggling in school. He said a lot of times these kids want to go somewhere they feel they belong. With the isolation the pandemic brings, a program promoting structure and security becomes more appealing.

“Sometimes these kids have never had that level playing field in their life, so this may be the first time that they ever feel equal to someone else to the point that they can achieve more and more,” said Perdue.

Perdue said not only is the program appealing to some students over traditional school, it is also appealing to some parents. The academy kept its cadets in a bubble long before the pandemic made isolation a requirement. Making the academy a safer option during the pandemic.

“It’s totally free and you know that your kids are here getting taken care of,” said Perdue.

Perdue said whether they have one cadet enrolled or 100, staff at the academy will do whatever they can to give their cadets the best futures possible.

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