Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do I need to do to be considered for the next class?
You must complete the entire application and send it in to your Admissions Counselor (or to the ADMISSIONS department if you have not yet been assigned an Admissions Counselor) as soon as possible.
Certain forms must be notarized. This can usually be done at your bank or credit union.
There is an application checklist that provides a brief summary of the required documents as well any additional requirements you may have with certain forms, such as notarizing them.
If you have questions, please contact admissions at 757-491-5932.
If I have court documents, may I still apply?
The Commonwealth ChalleNGe will require a copy of any and all court documentation on any charges, pending charges, and convictions you may have.
The documentation must indicate if the charge or conviction was or is a felony or misdemeanor offense. If you have a pending felony charge or a felony conviction, you are not eligible to apply for this program.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
Am I required to have a mentor?
All cadets must have a mentor in order to complete the program.
The mentor must be at least 21 years of age, be of the same sex as the cadet, and live within a reasonable distance of the cadet (exceptions to this rule will be handled on a case by case basis).
A completed mentor application must accompany the cadet’s application for enrollment. All mentor nominees will undergo a criminal background check once the student has been accepted into the program.
Mentor nominees must also attend a mandatory mentor training course. Mentor training is normally conducted during the applicant’s in-processing day, and during pass briefings.
If the mentor nominee is not able to attend the training at that time, please contact the Mentor Coordinator at 1-800-796-6472 or 757-491-5932 ext. 240 to schedule an appointment for another time.
Does my son or daughter need to dis-enroll/transfer from school?
Yes, a withdrawal letter or transfer form from the school is required for admission to the ChalleNGe Youth Academy.
You may bring this completed form with you on the day of in-processing. Your child may stay enrolled in his/her current school until they transfer to the ChalleNGe Academy, there is no need to dis-enroll them prior to that.
We recommend that you contact your child’s school at least a week prior to in-processing to verify any particular requirements the school may have in producing this letter or form for you.
Failure to obtain this letter or form will result in your child not being processed into the upcoming class.
Can I make my child attend ChalleNGe Youth Academy?
The Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy is strictly a voluntary program.
Your child must have a desire to attend. You can encourage your child to give it a try, but we cannot forcefully keep your child here if they don’t want to stay.
We are not a placement facility and attendance at the Academy cannot be court ordered or part of a probation contract.
Do I need to take a tour of the facility?
A tour is not mandatory for acceptance into the Academy, but we recommend that you do try to attend one of our open houses.
You and your child are however required to attend an orientation session.
For a list of upcoming dates, times and locations, please visit the “Orientations / Open House” page. We host orientations throughout the state to make it as convenient as possible for you to attend.
You may also contact your admissions counselor to find out when the next orientation will be held.
How can I prepare for the physical part of the Academy?
Start slowly……don’t overdo the exercise at first.
You will want to start with walking, gradually increasing your distance and speed, and then work up to a slow jog. Each week try to go a little further or a little fast.
You should also start stretching and doing some sit-ups and push-ups every day. As you begin to feel stronger, trying adding a few more each day. There is also information available on line that can help with starting an exercise routine.
The important thing is to start slowly. Don’t risk an injury by over exercising.
What will I be eating while at Commonwealth ChalleNGe?
We have a cafeteria style dining facility. The meals are nutritional, tasty, and filling.
We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day in the dining facility. Milk and juices are offered with meals.
In addition to the meals, snacks will be provided twice a day.
Can I have my electronic devices at Commonwealth ChalleNGe?
There are no electronics allowed until the platoons have earned the privilege.
My child is on medication….how is that handled?
On the class start date, the parent/guardian will turn over the medication to our medical staff.
The medical staff will house all of the medications in a locked facility and will dispense them to as prescribed.
Do I get to go home?
As a group, the Cadets are authorized two passes during the residential phase of the program. The passes are factored in to the required 147 days that the cadets must be physically at ChalleNGe to graduate.
This will be worked into the Academy schedule. The dates of the passes will be provided to the parent/guardian on the first day of class.
The parent or guardian is required provide transportation for the pass and to attend the pass meeting that is held at the time of pick up.
May I visit my cadet during the residential phase of the program?
Only during a scheduled event.
We have one scheduled “Family Day” where the family may come and visit.
In addition, Cadets will receive two passes during the residential phase.
Emergencies will be handled on a case by case basis.
How much does the program cost?
Nothing, there is NO CHARGE!!
Tuition, room and board, books, meals, and uniforms are provided at NO COST to the family.
During the final portion of the Residential Phase, there may be some OPTIONAL costs that the family may incur (yearbook, pictures, class ring, etc.), but these are strictly OPTIONAL items.
Candidates are required to bring a few personal items with them on the first day of class.
You will receive a list of these required items upon completion of one of the orientations. For the orientation dates, please visit the “Orientations / Open House” page.
What is the age requirement to attend Commonwealth ChalleNGe?
You must be between the ages of 16-18 years old on the first day of class.
How can I support the Academy?
The best way to support the academy is to write your local political figures (Congressperson, State Senator, or delegate) and tell them you support what the academy is doing.
You can also support our program by joining, and staying involved with our Parent Association.
Can I apply if I have a medical condition?
Medical conditions are handled on a case by case basis.
Part of your application process includes getting a physical, and filling out a mental health survey. Depending on our review of the paperwork, we may ask for additional documentation from your private healthcare provider or therapist.
If you are able to provide additional information in advance, it would help us to better determine your medical eligibility for this program.
If you have been diagnosed with a physical or mental condition, let your admissions counselor know in advance so they can advise you on what additional documentation may be required.