The 30th Session of the YCLE Academy was completed with graduation of 46 cadets on Friday, June 28, 2019. The cadets experienced a culture shock on the preceding Sunday when they reported with their parents for the next weeks adventure. They were told by American Legion counselors that they should say their good-byes BEFORE they entered the hallowed grounds of the Virginia State Police Training Academy.
After check-in, the Troopers took control of the cadets, made sure there was no contraband in their luggage and immediately began the teaching process of moving quickly and replying with “yes sir”, “yes mame” and so forth. Parents gathered in a separate classroom where the VSP training coordinator, Sgt Mike Tudor and AL Director Bill Feasenmyer gave the parents an overview of what their child was about to experience the next week. Contact information for both was given and parents quickly took photos of the phone numbers shown as they were told their children would not have access to their own cell phones. That privileging would be earned. Some parents cried, some laughed at what they were hearing, but they were assured that they were in the safest hands possible for the next 5 ½ days and not to worry. They were also assured that at Friday’s graduation, they would be astonished at what these 17 year olds would accomplish.
So, after a week of military drill, physical training, crime scene investigation, defensive tactics, driving a VSP cruiser, firing the VSP handgun and patrol rifle, simulated shoot or don’t shoot decision making, water safety, DUI simulation, more military drill and physical training, a visit to the Governor’s mansion, the Virginia War Memorial, and a cookout at Post 186 the 46 marched into the gym for graduation. Phones and cameras of parents taking photos as fast as possible of the precision marching, cadence, sharp turns, etc that they had learned in just 5 days. Parents were astonished and many had the same comment, “What did you do with my son or daughter”. Parents were advised to be proud of what their off spring had accomplished. It was not easy and it was not intended to be easy. We wanted them to truly feel that they had proved to themselves that even after the way they felt on Sunday evening, they were glad they had stuck it out and for many, accomplished what they expected to be an impossible goal on Sunday. Many thanks to my AL comrades Joyce Miller, Deloris Todman, Tommy Powell and Rick Ward for being there with me all week. Thank you, Commander Tom Queck, for your inspiring remarks at our graduation. Special thanks to Erica and all the posts that sent cadets. This outstanding program of the Department of Virginia could not be possible except for the support of all of your each and every year. Thank you.
Cadets receiving awards this year were:
- Brienna Romney (Post 48) VSP Female Physical Fitness Award
- Liam Skiles (Post 75) VSP Male Physical Fitness Award
- Samantha Warrant (Post 215) VSP All Around Cadet
- Max Wohlschlegel (Post 270) AL Jessica Cheney Spirit Award
Respectfully submitted for God and Country,
YCLE Academy Director