Warsaw Community High School is one of 15 high schools in the northern Indiana area that has implemented WorkOne’s JAG program as an option available to students wishing to better prepare themselves for life after high school.
According to WorkOne Communication Manager Chuck Knebl, one of the main advantages available to students in the program is the ability to learn and improve upon what he referred to as “soft skills.” These are areas that don’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of what is considered the standard high school curriculum, such as how to handle a job interview, how to create a resume and how to work as a part of a team. A day in the JAG program could consist of anything from volunteering at My Starving Children, to learning how to fill out an NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket. Regardless of the activity, the students are always learning useful life skills, whether they know it or not. As junior Evan Ousley put it, “JAG is actually fun.”
WorkOne also sponsors the Career Development Conference each year in Indianapolis. The January conference offers the opportunity for JAG students from different school to compete against one another in a variety of competition areas like public speaking, job interviews and writing essays. The event allows students the opportunity to travel to the state capital, meet the governor and meet kids from other schools, all while practicing skills that be beneficial to them as they become a part of the work force.
Senior Riley Hall, who is in his first year with the JAG program, noted another one of the added benefits of being a part of the program, “It creates connections. A good example of that is for the Career Development Conference. I was going to do the interview competition, so I practiced for that with a practice interview with Principal Akers. I came out of there with a real job offer. He asked ‘can we hire you now?’ It was for a custodial position, which I wasn’t previously interested in but it offered me a chance to get my foot in the door.” Hall plans to begin his pursuit of a criminal justice degree at Ivy Tech in the fall.
Many of the students point to second year JAG instructor Tara Akers as one of the main reasons for the program’s success. JAG junior Sam Roberts stated, “Tara has been there for us not only for school but also our personal life and it has been a big help.” Ousley explained how he had competed in the public speaking competition at the CDC, an area that he had previously struggled in, “The first time I tried out for it I stumbled through it, but Tara took me through it and we ran through it over and over again and by the end I felt really good about it.”