HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Appalachian Challenge Academy held an in-person for its graduates on Friday.
"Safety and security of our cadets have always been our top priority here at Appalachian Challenge and we have been a closed campus throughout since we started back in January," Director Josh Coldiron said.
Class 0-1-6 graduated but their families had to attend virtually.
"We are very proud of all of their accomplishments and that they have been able to complete our program during this time," explained Coldiron. "One thing that has been very wonderful through this whole process has been the support of our cadet families," Coldiron said.
Morgan County native Jesse Nickell graduated at the top of his class.
"I strive to be the best every day I wake up every day I try to be a better me I make sure I leave good footsteps for others to follow in," Nickell said.
Due to COVID-19, his family could not attend.
"I've come to realize to myself that not seeing my family in here is a life lesson that I'm not going to be able to see my family all the time," Nickell added.
On Saturday, he will be reunited with his loved ones.
"I'm very excited I'm excited to see my little brothers my stepmom my dad and my mother," Nickell said.
6 of the 71 graduates earned their high school diplomas while at the academy.