LOGANSPORT — For a handful of seniors at Logansport High School, Jobs for America’s Graduates meant they could spend a few class periods painting their classroom in berry red and coordinating colors to make it more welcoming.
But in making redecorating decisions and splitting up the work among the class members, they were practicing “soft skills” like teamwork, leadership and responsibility that will help them obtain jobs after high school, according to their JAG teacher Jay Jones.
Cass County’s only JAG class is in its second year and has 18 seniors and 12 juniors participating. The students, all recommended for the class by guidance counselors and the school dean, qualify for the program in part because of family income levels or other characteristics that put them at risk of not graduating from high school.
Upwards of a hundred students are narrowed down, via interviews and teacher references, to find students who are a good fit with each other and with the JAG class ahead of them.
“The biggest thing they’ve got to come with is the willingness to change,” said Jones.
At least a handful of the 30 students will be the first in their immediate family to finish high school, he explained. Others haven’t been encouraged to continue their education after high school, either.
“We’re trying to break cycles of poverty, so we’ve got to show them what’s out there,” said Jones.
Nationally, JAG participants graduate from high school at a rate of 94 percent, according to the organization’s class of 2011 data. LHS seniors this fall will be the first to graduate from the full, two-year JAG program.
Students do projects on different career paths and have visited multiple college campuses to explore post-secondary education possibilities. Many of them interned at one of several local businesses over the past year and a half.