Alternative track leads to educational success and U.S. Army

Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

While most boys his age are concerned with weekend plans and stressing over who they’ll ask to the prom, 17-year-old Lucas Pittman of Lancaster is jetting off to South Carolina to begin his career.

On Monday, Pittman was sworn into the U.S. Army at Fort Lee in Petersburg. He left immediately for basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

He and his mom, Tanya Pittman, couldn’t be more excited. Oh, there’s some natural motherly apprehension about sending her son off to the military, and definitely a few tears as she prepared to say goodbye for at least eight weeks.

“I think he’s ready. He’s mentally prepared himself. He’s built for that kind of structure,” said Tanya. “As a mother, of course, I’m a little nervous. But he’s confident in what he’s going to do, so I’m confident too.”

Lucas has had a whirlwind of a few weeks, graduating March 2 from the Commonwealth Challenge Youth Academy and getting sworn into the Army and leaving for basic training a week later.

“I was ready for this a long time ago,” said Lucas. “All I want to do is work. I can’t sit in one place too long.”

Lots of folks aren’t familiar with the path Lucas has taken recently. Not many have heard of Commonwealth Challenge, an alternative schooling program in Virginia Beach that’s structured and operated by the U.S. National Guard.

Traditional school “was a struggle,” for Lucas, said Tanya…