Two EHS Jag students place in top 10 at nationals

Emporia Gazette, April 30, 2023 – Click to read original article

Two Emporia High School sophomores placed in the top 10 in national competitions during the Jobs for America’s Graduates National Career Development Conference in Orlando last week.

Kameron Welch placed third in career preparation and A.J. Hase placed ninth in prepared speaking. They were part of a 32-person delegation of JAG-Kansas students who traveled to Orlando to participate in the competitions.

JAG career specialist Lori Tubach said a lot of research and practice goes into the competitions for both career preparation and prepared speaking. Welch, she said, chose the career path of “author.”

“It just entails investigating how to get to that career path,” Tubach said. “That includes what school does it require, what does a job description look like, how common is this job — is this a job that is growing or is it a job that is decreasing?”

They also look at components like average salary, average length of career and place the information in a PowerPoint presentation.

“They also discuss how JAG-K can help them achieve that,” Tubach said.

Judges were impressed with Welch’s excitement when talking about the career path and walking through his slides.

Prepared speaking is a little different. JAG-K gives students a topic to give a speech on. This year’s speech topic revolved around how the JAG-K program has benefited them and helped them prepare for their futures.

Tubach said, overall, there are seven competition categories that students can enter: Financial Literacy, Creative Decision Making, Prepared Speaking, Career Preparation, Project-Based Learning, Business Plan, and Employability Skills. Local competitions are held in house at Emporia High School between the two JAG-K classes before students are selected for regional competition.

“Kam placed first in regionals and A.J. placed third in regionals,” Tubach said. “So, they went to state … and again Kam placed first in his career prep and A.J. placed third in prepared speaking.”

She said it was exciting to have two students from EHS qualify and perform so well at nationals.

“It was very exciting for me,” Tubach said. “Even at state when they both qualified, Kam’s face and A.J.’s face, they were both so excited. I’m just so proud of them. They had so much polish on their presentations, they worked hard for it. … I could just see that they went above and beyond and wanted to go further.”

She added that traveling to nationals is a “great opportunity” that gives students a chance to meet and network with their peers from the 38 other states where JAG programs are in operation.

“This really excited the rest of the kids in the program,” Tubach said. “Having the other kids see how far they can go if they put some time and effort into it [was good].”

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.

“We focus on leadership skills, employability skills, financial skills,” Tubach said. “JAG-K is really important to help support kids who may not have access to all of the supports other kids have.”

Finishing her second year as a career specialist, Tubach said she’s already seen the big impact the program can have on students.

“I like to push [my students] outside of their comfort zone,” she said. “I have several of my followup kids who are just finishing up their first year of college which is really exciting. I talked to one he said he’s got straight A’s in college his first semester and he’s very excited about that. That was great, because he struggled in high school in making grades. A lot of kids do struggle because they’re balancing other things in life other than high school, so it’s good to see them succeed.”

JAG-K president and CEO Chuck Knapp said he was proud of all of the Kansas students who traveled to nationals.

“JAG-K was well represented by some outstanding students at the second annual National Career Development Conference,” Knapp said. “These young people continue to impress and inspire, and they are a consistent reminder that our evidence-based model works. There is not another program that is as comprehensive in the competencies taught, personal skills learned, and life changing results achieved.”

To learn more about JAG-K, visit, “Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas” on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.