JAG-K students qualify for nationals

Great Bend Tribune, April 11, 2022 – click to view the original article

Great Bend High School students  in the JAG-K class distinguished themselves last week at the Job for America’s Graduates – Kansas annual State Career Development Conference.

More than 200 students gathered at Barton Community College for the event, held in person for the first time in three years. They elected officers for next year, competed in areas of job preparedness and met with potential employers at a job fair.

JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp said the event was conducted virtually in 2020 and 2021.

“The State CDC is one of the most anticipated and exciting events of the year for JAG-K students,” said Knapp. “Representing your school at state is a rare opportunity, and all these students should be proud of the work and preparation it took to get there.”

JAG-K is in its fifth year at GBHS, instructor Jennifer Hoskins noted. Her students brought home several individual awards, as well as the championship award for overall team performance.

“I absolutely could not be more proud of this group of students!” Hopkins said. “Although I have had students make it to our State competition every year, this is the biggest group we have ever taken. They have worked extremely hard all year to prepare and their efforts were rewarded when they earned first place as a team. I know they are excited to head to Dallas, Texas, next month for Nationals and I am confident they will represent GBHS and JAG-K well.”

GBHS student Ashley Redding took first place in the Employability Skills competition.

“This entire experience has been a huge eye-opener,” Redding said. “It was a blast getting to compete at State. I am super excited to advance to Nationals in May. Not only that, I have learned a lot in the process. Thank you to my support system and my amazing teacher, Mrs. Hopkins, who has helped me every step of the way.”

Team awards

Great Bend High School’s JAG-K students placed first at the JAG-K Career Development Conference, held April 5 at Barton Community College. In addition to sharing the title of the 2022 State Career Development Team Champions, Great Bend students received the following individual awards:

• Ashley Redding took first place in Employability Skills and will advance to Nationals

• Madison Carter took second place in Prepared Speaking and will advance to Nationals

• Katie Kuhlman, Madison Smith, and Bradley Hopkins took third place in Project-Based Learning (PBL). They are the first runners-up for Nationals.

• Jaquelin Barrera, Aracely Talamantes, and Jonathan Ruiz took sixth place in Business Plan

The state competition included a middle school division. Although Great Bend USD 428 does not have JAG-K at the middle school level, that is expected to change and expansion of the program is on the agenda for the April 11 Board of Education meeting.

“As we continue to see the growth and success of our program, we recognize the importance of reaching even more students. To that end, I am excited to expand our reach as we begin a middle school program for 7th and 8th graders next year,” Hopkins said.

“My biggest hope for all of my students is that they will each find a successful future in the career path of their own choosing,” she said. “We work hard each year to learn the importance of being responsible, building good reputations, and becoming responsible citizens. Graduating high school is only the first step on their path to success. While the majority of students do go on to college, a few choose to go directly into the workforce. Regardless of their choice, they can walk in confidence knowing they have learned the skills they need to be successful in life.”

Hopkins also expressed gratitude to local employers who have served as partners to JAG-K.

“Many come into the classroom as guest speakers, exposing the students to various industries and opportunities within our own community,” she said. “Some partner with us and allow students to tour their businesses, job shadow, or even work in an internship or apprenticeship program. Regardless of their level of engagement, we continue to be a successful program because of the amazing partners that are willing to invest in our JAG students.”

New officers elected

JAG-K participants across Kansas voted for statewide officers for the next year. These four officers will attend the National Student Leadership Academy (NSLA) in Washington, D.C. later this year.

Elected to serve as next year’s state officers were: President: Nuru Abdallah, Wyandotte High School; Vice President: Liberty Gilkey, Kiowa Co. High School; Secretary: Hailee Black, Hutchinson High School; Treasurer: Ta’Mijha Nichols, Shawnee Heights High School. 

High School competition results

The 200-plus participants competed in events that showcase competencies attained in the JAG-K program.

High school students who placed in the competition were: 

• Financial Literacy: 1st Angel Diaz, Goodland; 2nd Phoenix Reisner, Shawnee Mission West; 3rd Tristan Romero, Winfield 

• Creative Decision Making Team Competition: 1st Grace Thompson, Hannah Greenleaf, Cayden Pore, Kiowa Co. 

• Prepared Speaking: 1st Ryah Klima, Concordia; 2nd Madison Carter, Great Bend; 3rd Jackie Martinez, Garden City 

• Career Preparation: 1st Melanie Varela, Garden City; 2nd Anylah Jones, Shawnee Mission North 1; 3rd Mercedes Ladwig, McPherson

• Project Based Learning Team Competition: 1st Cadence Sandlin, Anthony Attieri, Charles Seamans, Junction City AE; 2nd Liberty Gilkey, Connor Pore, Karina Martinez, Kiowa Co.

• Business Plan Team Competition: 1st Mylee Gerber, Jack Shaffer, Airam Fernandez, Pratt; 2nd Chiquisia Clemons, Mackenzie Kendall, Aeris McGee, Field Kindley (Coffeyville)

• Employability Skills: 1st Ashley Reddig, Great Bend; 2nd Keadan Kearn, Concordia; 3rd Natalie Radke, Garden City

• T-Shirt Design: 1st Nadonna Baggett, Hutchinson 1; 2nd Natalie Castro, Arkansas City 1; 3rd Ryah Klima, Concordia

The winners of the seven different areas of competition (minus the T-shirt competition), earned the opportunity to compete at nationals in Dallas in May.

Teams were also awarded recognition based on their collective performance. The top four teams came from Great Bend (1st place), Concordia High School (2nd place), Kiowa Co. High School (3rd place), and Garden City High School (4th place).   

Competition in seven categories was staged for middle school participants as well. Westridge Middle School in Shawnee Mission placed first in the team standings, followed by Kiowa County Junior High School.

Job Fair

Participants had the opportunity to meet with representatives of more than 20 businesses and organizations in a job fair sponsored by the Young Bank Officers of Kansas.

“The Young Bank Officers of Kansas recognize the benefit of helping Kansas employers connect with talented and trained young employees,” said Alex Orel, senior vice-president of Government Relations for the Kansas Bankers Association. “We are excited to help JAG-K introduce students to prospective employers and to educate them about career opportunities in Kansas.”

About JAG-K

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.

The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. Learn more at www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.