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JAG program tops in the state

The Farmington High School Jobs for America’s Graduates program has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the premiere programs in the state.

JAG, as it is commonly known, is a national, non-profit school-to-work programs that focuses on transitioning students to life after graduation – whether it be into the workforce or continuing with their education.

What started at Farmington High School with only around 35 students is now the largest chapter in the state.

“In our first year, the program was still new and we were trying to promote it and get students interested, so I maybe had 35 to 40 students,” said Erica Dement, the school’s JAG specialist. “This past year, our program manager, Paul Kinkade, spoke to our principal, Dr. Hostetler and I, and we agreed we were under-serving our school’s population. He gave the school permission to expand to 80 students, making us the largest program in the state.”

In addition, the district was also able to begin a JAG program in the middle school which presently has 29 students enrolled.

The source of the program’s success, according to Dement, has been rather surprising.

“It has been mostly word of mouth, but our students love being in this class,” Dement said. “I had kids coming to me and asking ‘Miss Dement, can I do JAG next year?’ and then they want me to sign off on it so they can get it added to their schedule.”

Dement thinks part of the success can be attributed to the success rate the program has and letting people know the program is working.

As Dement explained, the program is designed to assist students with post-graduate planning which may include entering the workforce, continuing their education, or joining the military.

“During class time, we determine what their career goals are and then we work on how we are going to get in that direction,” Dement said. “Some of these kids don’t know if they want to go to college or join the workforce. This class helps them with that.”

According to Dement, students aren’t forgotten about once they graduate. In fact, as the JAG specialist, she stays in contact with them during the first year after graduation.

“One of the unique things about JAG, which I really think makes the program, is after they graduate, I have to follow up with them,” Dement said. “From May of the year they graduate to the May of the following year, I contact them on a monthly basis. I ask if they are working or in school. If they are not, it is my goal to get them doing something.”

Besides becoming the largest program in the state, Farmington JAG is also a national award-winning program.

“We received the ‘5 of 5 Award,’ which is a prestigious national award for JAG,” Dement said. “It takes into consideration your graduation rate, how many kids are employed full-time, your placement rate, (if) you have kids in the military. We met all of our standards, so we received the award.”

In addition to helping student devise a post-graduation plan, JAG also cultivates leaders. Every year, JAG students from across the country have the opportunity to attend the National Student Leadership Academy in Washington D.C. During their time at the academy, students participate in leadership development, compete in a variety of events and meet government and business leaders.

This year, the Farmington JAG program would like to send eight students to the conference so they can experience this opportunity.

The program is looking for sponsors who would like to assist these students with getting the appropriate attire for the events. In return, the students will wear T-shirts when they travel with the name of the sponsor on the back.

If interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Dement at 573-701-1310 ext. 2110 or at edement@farmington.k12.mo.us.

Farmington Middle School implemented a JAG program this year and currently has 29 students. Kaydence Cortez and Adaira Perkins are the first officers in the school's new program. 

Farmington Middle School implemented a JAG program this year and currently has 29 students. Kaydence Cortez and Adaira Perkins are the first officers in the school’s new program. 

The Farmington High School Jobs for America’s Graduates program (JAG) is now the biggest chapter in the state with 80 students at the high school and 29 students at the middle school. This year's new officers at Farmington High School are (from left) Samantha Stricklin, Jasmine Cochran, Helena Bradley, Nick Scavone, Clayton Wagganer, McKenzie Dean, and Marsadeze Huitt.  

The Farmington High School Jobs for America’s Graduates program (JAG) is now the biggest chapter in the state with 80 students at the high school and 29 students at the middle school. This year’s new officers at Farmington High School are (from left) Samantha Stricklin, Jasmine Cochran, Helena Bradley, Nick Scavone, Clayton Wagganer, McKenzie Dean, and Marsadeze Huitt.  

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com

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