They came from many of the high schools, middle schools, and continuation schools of Placer County due to truancy, multiple suspension, expulsion, probation referrals, or court order. Most hated school and school authority. Several had lengthy criminal histories already and some were from rival gangs. Forty-two males and females would start wearing Army camouflage versus street clothes. They would undergo the hardest academic and physical rigor of their lives. Most met the challenge - some did not. This was their last chance of avoiding dropping out of school, living a life of crime, incarceration or death. There they would run into a retired police sergeant who would be their teacher. He prided himself on being "old school" and with the help of the U.S. Army, they together, help transform these youth into high school graduates and productive adults. They were inspired by books/films such as Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver, To Sir With Love, Gridiron Gang and Dangerous Minds to the point of wanting to share their stories with others. For most "cadets" the academy became their family. Through their writings, the reader will enter the lives they had been living before attending the academy. They explain how they began noticing changes in both their attitude, physical fitness, and family life. It was their dream that at least one at-risk student would become inspired by their book and decide, after Hitting Rock Bottom, to turn their lives around like they did.
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