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Former cadet speaks out about experience at Youth Academy

Fifteen people were injured during fights at the Youth Academy this week.

EASTOVER, S.C. — Two days after an incident at the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy, more than a dozen people were sent to the hospital. 

Former cadets spoke to WLTX about their thoughts and their experiences.

Cadet Mark Lupori attended the Youth Challenge Program in 2019.

"What surprised me the most was not the youth challenge, it was the job challenge that was involved, cause they are used to it, been through it, they know what to expect, and plus they have more privileges, so it kinda surprised me, when they said job training, but that's how it is," said former cadet Mark Lupori.   

"It's tough when you first go in there, cause you got to adapt from being with all your friends and family to learning to be alone, and being in there is not hard, it's not, but it's learning to be by yourself and to believe in yourself is the hard part," he says. 

He says the first few months are the hardest. 

That's when he would see his other cadets having issues, but, he said, once people became more comfortable with where they were it became easier.  

Now he's happy he completed the program and says his life has made a complete turnaround.

When he arrived at the Youth Challenge Academy he says he was only 117lbs and when he left he was 170, he also added his GPA increased from 1.3 to 3.9. 

He also said there were never any stand-out moments he felt unsafe when attending but he said if someone is planning to come here they should make sure they are mentally ready because it can be hard.

WLTX did reach out for an update on the investigation and the National Guard said that they are still investigating the incident. 

The National Guard told WLTX to reach out to the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division for updates. 

The division says they are aware of the incident and working with law enforcement partners to investigate with no additional details.


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