The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, which helps high school students with barriers to success earn their diploma and learn valuable employability skills, recently hosted the 10th annual State Career Development Conference with more than 160 students competing in the state finals.
Students from all over the state competed in ten different categories that challenged their critical thinking skills, entrepreneurial savvy, public speaking and writing comprehension.
More than 1,000 JAG Indiana students initially competed in the regional events before the field was narrowed to 160 with the capstone achievement being the Outstanding Senior recognition.
The criteria for Outstanding Senior included academic performance, participation in JAG Career Association activities, success in and out of the JAG classroom and a demonstration of perseverance through personal and academic challenges.
This is the first time in a while that our region has had students finish in the top ranks at the State competition.
Sidney Shoaf of Pendleton Heights High School was named the 2018 JAG Indiana Outstanding Senior, followed by runner up, Iesha Young of Snider High School in Fort Wayne and Te’Airra Spencer of Calumet New Tech High School, who placed third. Honorable mention awards included Bailey LaFollette of Tippecanoe Valley High School, Kayla Edmondson of Logansport High School, Nicholas Crump of Jay County High School, Parker Timberman of Northview High School, Angie Evans of Bedford North Lawrence High School, Mariah Grider of Jennings County High School, Nathaniel Stokes of Jeffersonville High School, Ma’Nya Adams of Benjamin Bosse High School in Evansville, and Jailah Carter of North Central High School in Indianapolis.
The Entrepreneurship Team from Pike Central won 1st place, and Aalyah Avery placed 2nd in Public Speaking.
“It’s always gratifying to see Indiana’s youth accomplishing such outstanding tasks and demonstrating their skills and abilities,” said Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, who spoke at the event and currently is serving as the Chair of the JAG National Board. “The JAG Indiana program continues to inspire our state’s students, and today’s event was a great example of the bright future these students have.”
Three awards also were presented to the school Career Association, which is a student-led service learning component of the JAG program, in the categories of marketing brochure which promotes the career association and recruits new members, service learning blog that showcased bullying prevention initiatives by the JAG Career Association, and a two-minute commercial to promote JAG Indiana to their peers.
“The students competing at the JAG career development conference demonstrated the variety of skills and range of ability that will prepare them for success as they continue their education and pursue career opportunities,” said Fred Payne, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “I was pleased to see the efforts that all students put into this competition, and their performance was a clear indication of why JAG Indiana has become the nation’s largest and most successful program in the JAG national network.”
Beginning with just 12 schools in 2006, JAG Indiana has grown to the largest affiliate in the national network with more than 137 programs statewide.
Since its inception, more than 18,000 Hoosiers have participated in JAG with 95 percent of these students graduating from high school. JAG students receive career preparation and life skills training while in school and one year of adult mentoring after graduation to ensure their continued success.
Many students choose to continue their education after high school. In fact, JAG students secured more than $26 million in scholarships for the class of 2017.
Click here to learn more about the JAG Indiana program.
(This story was originally published April 3, 2018)