Gov. Bill Haslam has opened an alternative residential program operated by the Tennessee National Guard that gives some teens a chance to earn a high school equivalency diploma outside a traditional school setting.

The governor's office said in a news release that the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy is located at the site of the former Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville. The first class is beginning this week and will have approximately 100 cadets.

Haslam said in the release that the program is intended to help teenagers get on the right path and become eligible for the Tennessee Promise college program.

The program is voluntary and open to teens ages 16 to 18 with no criminal record. During a 22-week residential phase, cadets focus on core components in a quasi-military environment.