New Opportunities for At-Risk Teens at The Salvation Army


Seeking a new location to teach a class of at-risk young men, Coach David Barker, administrator of the Romeo Preparatory Academy, turned to The Salvation Army in Paris. The partnership that developed is providing education, encouragement and changing lives.

This alternative high school provides something of a last chance for the 22 young men enrolled in the program. Many of the students deal with troubling family issues and challenging circumstances that have negatively impacted their ability to graduate from high school.

Lt. Nick Hutchinson of The Salvation Army agreed to house the academy where classes are administered online with additional instruction provided by several tutors each week. The academy also has a strong athletics program successful in both football and basketball. Bible and music classes are an integral part of the curriculum and 10 guitars were purchased through funding from the Denver Pyle Children’s Charity. Lt Hutchinson now teaches weekly group guitar lessons to all of the young men in the program.

“The students are attentive and eager to learn and it has been a great experience working with these young people and seeing the progress they have made,” said Lt. Hutchinson. “We never had electives like this at our last school,” said student Montario Norris. “This is a great chance to learn something new.”

As part of their education, each student is required to perform 60 hours of community service each year. The Salvation Army has utilized these community hours to help with upkeep to the property, Christmas kettle bell ringing, the Angel Tree, and working in the food pantry.

“I have seen a night and day change in many of their lives,” explained Lt. Hutchinson. “The guys have responded very positively to this level of discipline and structure that is new for many of them.” Another student, Reginald Young Jr. said, “I have a chance to straighten my life up, stay in school, and be successful. We all feel like we’re now part of The Salvation Army family.”


About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 81 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.