Straughn JAG students among winners at conference

Published 9:15 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

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The Straughn High School Career Association (JAG) competed at the NCA State Career Development Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, March 7, and placed in the top three in four events.

SHS earned first place in the Project-based Learning Showcase. It was the second consecutive year the PBL team took first in the entire state. Straughn finished in second place in both the Business Plan and Financial Literacy events. The final event was the L.O.V.E. Project, where the school took third place. As a result of their top three finishes, students who participated in these events will advance to the NCA National Career Development Conference from April 19-23 in Orlando.

JAG Specialist Kaci Perry was very proud of her students for their hard work and dedication at the state event.

“It’s a joy to watch them be rewarded for their hard work,” Perry said. “Every one of these students faces barriers, whether it be academic, social, or emotional. Many of them started the school year terrified to stand in front of the class and speak, and now they are presenting at a national competition. I am thankful for the opportunity to pour into these students each day. They are learning skills that will help them be successful in whatever they choose to do in life and making amazing memories along the way.”

In the project-based learning showcase event, NCA members create a presentation to highlight a unit of study where PBL teaching methodology was used to instruct the JAG competencies. Shaylee Harrison and Kyera Harris were two of the four students who finished in first place in this event.

“In JAG, I’ve grown to learn that your past does not destroy you but only if you let it. Instead, let it help shape your future,” Harrison said. “This was the most amazing experience I have had in my high school career. Shout out to Mrs. Perry for helping me step out of my comfort zone and accomplish things I didn’t know I could do,” Harris added.

The business plan event provides competitors the opportunity to work as a team to develop a proposal to form a small business. Hayden Blair and Hallie Goodman were two of the four students who took second place.

“JAG has assisted me in many aspects of my life. It has helped me step outside of my comfort zone and acquire new leadership skills that I believe are crucial to becoming the person I want to be,” Blair stated. “I am so proud of what my team and I have been able to accomplish this year with JAG. We worked hard to make it to nationals and worked together great as a team. I can’t wait to see what nationals has in store for us,” Goodman said.

Mallory Hall is in her second year of the JAG program at Straughn and has competed in the business plan event twice.

“I remember seeing it on my first high school schedule wondering what is this class. I had no idea it was going to become such an influential part of my life,” Hall said. “JAG has given me the best opportunities, and that is thanks to my specialist, Mrs. Kaci Perry. She has pushed my classmates and me to be the best we could be, and now, thanks to her, I will be attending the second National Career Development Conference. I am beyond excited and grateful for this opportunity through JAG.”

The financial literacy event encourages NCA members to develop skills related to financial literacy that could include money management, budgeting, bank accounts, interest rates, basic investing, credit cards, saving money, and financial safety. Sylvia Worley was named second place in this event.

Orrin Douglas joined JAG this year and said the organization has helped him to make many new friends.

“JAG has helped me improve my leadership skills, social skills, and my teamwork skills. Working with my fellow business plan partners Hallie, Mallory, and Hayden, we were able to achieve first at district and second at state. I hope we are able to win at nationals, but if we don’t, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people,” he said.

Sierra Bobo first joined the JAG program in ninth grade and stated she really enjoyed it beginning in tenth grade. She did not compete in the L.O.V.E. Project until this year as a senior.

“We got a new teacher my sophomore year, and I loved her. She made it so much fun and although she begged me to do competitions, I never did until I was a senior this year. The L.O.V.E. Project was so amazing and fun. I’m so glad I did this and stayed in JAG. It taught me really great things and life skills. I would like to say a big thank you to Mrs. Perry for encouraging me to do the L.O.V.E. Project because now I get to go to Orlando with all my friends,” Bobo said.

This will be the third consecutive year Straughn’s JAG program competes at the national level. 2021 was a virtual event, where the school finished in the top 10 in the PBL showcase and employability skills events. 2022 was the first in-person national competition, where SHS took fourth place in the PBL showcase and sixth place at the business plan event.

“When you think about the stress and struggles in life and just want to quit, know you’re not alone. That’s what I’ve learned from being in JAG this year,” Harleigh Dixon said.

For more information on the national and state competitions, visit or or call Straughn High School at 334-222-2511.

“We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone that donated dress clothes for our students and those that donated snacks for our food pantry. We are so blessed with amazing community supporters and look forward to these students competing at the national level once again,” Perry said.