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First JAG students get diplomas at SHS

JAG students at Straughn High School who earned their high school diploma were Jeremy Williamson, Zoe Bond, Cody Wise, Dylan Clark, Cassey Gill, Mae Hazen and Aaron Gay.

JAG students at Straughn High School who earned their high school diploma were Jeremy Williamson, Zoe Bond, Cody Wise, Dylan Clark, Cassey Gill, Mae Hazen and Aaron Gay.

At the end of May, a group of seven Straughn High School students took a journey few thought they’d ever see – across the graduation stage, diploma in hand.

The students – Jeremy Williamson, Zoe Bond, Cody Wise, Dylan Clark, Cassey Gill, Mae Hazen and Aaron Gay – were members of the schools’ Jobs for America’s Graduates program, or JAG program. JAG specialist Whitney Geohagan said the group was her first to complete four years of high school.

“I am just so proud of these students,” Geohagan said. “Five of the seven have already received college credit through dual enrollment and, or will be starting college in the fall. The other two have jobs lined up.”

The JAG program is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk, Geohagan said.

“In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue post-secondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities,” she said.

And the numbers prove it, Geohagan said. Of the program students in 2011, 94 percent graduated, with 69 percent obtaining full-time jobs and another 44 percent enrolling in postsecondary education.

Students like SHS senior Cassey Gill said the program “taught me respect, responsibility, manners, and self-respect. I am so glad to have had this opportunity.”

Mae Hazen, another SHS senior, said Geohagan “helped most of us break out of our shell, with words of encouragement. She taught us how to be self-aware and that our decisions are what makes us.”

“JAG has helped me prepare for the real world,” said Zoe Bond. “It helped me with a lot of things like finding a job and becoming successful. It has also taught me how to save and budget my money. JAG has helped me to better my logic so I can make better decisions for myself. I am glad I had the opportunity to be apart of JAG. It was a very fun learning experience that I will never forget