Armando Neponuceno was used to sleeping past sunrise.
And he'd never made a bed with hospital corners in his life.
But when the Richland teen showed up to the Washington Youth Academy in Bremerton, wake up was at 4:45 a.m. sharp.
And he had to make his bed to perfection each morning.
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Neponuceno didn't mind.
Those rules — plus a slew of others at the quasi-military training and mentoring program for at-risk youth — helped change his life.
And his nearly six-month experience at the academy is a big reason he successfully finished high school back home in the Tri-Cities, he said.
"I had the opportunity to be a different person. Like the saying, 'You forge your future' — I was like, now I'm going to forge my future," said Neponuceno, part of Richland High's Class of 2018.
Neponuceno, 19, fell behind in his first couple years of high school. He felt like he'd never catch up.
He had support from Richland High staff, even meeting regularly with them and other struggling students in a small group to stay on track.
But something needed to change.
So Neponuceno tried the youth academy — a program that could help him earn enough credits to make a difference.
He got those credits, plus so much more.
"It was life-changing for him. He came back and had focus and determination," said Chandra Markel, a Richland High counselor. "He worked hard to reach his ultimate goal (of graduating from Richland High)."
Mike Edwards, Richland High's athletic director, mentored Neponuceno, even writing him letters and visiting him in Bremerton.
"We're very proud of Armando," Edwards said. "He understands the importance of his education even more now."
Neponuceno returned to Richland High for his senior year.
Things were different. He put what he learned to work.
He'd proud to have earned his high school diploma, and he's excited about his future plans. He loves photography and wants to build up his portfolio. He's also starting the barbering program through the Paul Mitchell school in Richland later this month.
Edwards said he expects good things from Neponuceno. As graduation approached, the educator was looking forward to one moment with the teen in particular.
Neponuceno asked Edwards to be the one to hand him his hard-earned diploma.
"I don't do very well at graduation" because it's so emotional, said Edwards, his eyes watering as he sat next to Neponuceno — the young man he'd watched come so far. "It's special that he asked and that I can do it. It's very special."