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Charter School program helps 39 juvenile offenders earn diploma

OYACS Graduates at Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center (COJC)

It's an opportunity many juvenile offenders across the country will never have; a chance to earn their high school diploma.

Here in Oklahoma, that dream is coming true for more and more young men.

The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs reports that 39 teenagers have earned a high school degree through the Oklahoma Youth Academy Charter School.

"That's 39 young men who never thought they would earn a diploma. They worked hard and made it a reality. We hope that this is just the beginning for them and they will continue to pursue other educational and career aspirations," stated Melissa White OYACS Superintendent.

OYACS was started in 2014 to provide teaching and learning to offenders under supervision of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Since its' inception, 39 young men have graduated from the program.

"I have accomplished many things that I never thought I would in life; I have obtained my high school diploma," said a recent graduate of Oklahoma Youth Academy Charter School. "When I came here I only had 8.5 high school credits, I knew the education staff would not give up on me even if I wanted to give up on myself," the young man added.

Oklahoma is one of only a few states to operate a school within the juvenile system. Currently OYACS boasts two principals (Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center, Southwest Juvenile Center), 19 teachers and 7 teacher aids. OJA also partners with local CareerTech campuses to provide courses in auto-mechanic certification and graphic design.

"This is a great time for our charter school, our teachers, and staff who work diligently to ensure our kids finish with a positive moment in their lives, that were once filled with so many negatives. This is a worthy milestone for OJA to close out the year," said Steven Buck, OJA Executive Director. "I am so thankful our state's legislative process started us down this unique approach to educating young people facing significant academic deficits."

For more information on the Oklahoma Youth Academy Charter School, visit www.ok.gov/oja or www.oklahomayouthacademy.org.

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