November 15, 2012

OUR VIEW: Getting ready for the work world

— A program at Logansport High School aims to prepare struggling students for the work force. Called Jobs for America’s Graduates, the program is now in its second year.

This year’s class includes 18 seniors and 12 juniors, all recommended by guidance counselors and the dean’s office. They qualify for the program in part because of family income levels or other characteristics that put them at risk of not graduating. To find the students most likely to succeed, administrators sifted through more than 100 candidates.

Some of these students will be the first in their immediate families to finish high school. Few would have been predicted to go on to college, but the JAG program aims to change that.

The Logansport JAG program is one of 700 set up in high schools, alternative schools, middle schools and community colleges across the country and in the United Kingdom. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has worked with nearly three-quarters of a million young people.

Nationally, the program’s class of 2011 graduated from high school at a rate of 94 percent.

Administrators at LHS say they’ve already seen a difference in the participating students. Achievement and attendance have increased, they say, and discipline issues have gone down.

Participants in this year’s program have completed 21 paid internships at local businesses. They’ve also finished several community service projects, including participation during Live United Day this fall.

Through exercises such as repainting their classroom, the students have learned about teamwork, leadership and responsibility that will help them obtain jobs after high school.

One participant acknowledges that she had little expectation for the program. She thought it would be like many of the other classes she had taken in school. She says now, though, that it has helped to prepare her for the real world, improving her communication skills and teaching her about customer service.

This program is helping students achieve things they likely never would have achieved without it. It is helping them to break out of a cycle of poverty and pursue dreams they might never have imagined.

We applaud Logansport High School administrators for introducing this program, and we look forward to its results.