New Jobs for America's Graduates programs now at ASH and Bolton

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Biology and English are both important classes, but the lessons don't include life skills. Over the last few years the Rapides Parish School District has been expanding their Jobs for America's Graduates programs. Recently, they added a program at Alexandria Senior High and an additional program at Bolton High School.

"Some classes you take, you'll never even use, but this one you will because it prepares you," said ASH Senior Sarah Spivey

Her new JAG class is already making strides.

"Learning interview skills, learning workforce skills, what are employers looking for," said new ASH JAG Specialist Jessica Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is helping students acquire the tools they'll need after walking across the stage.

"It's kind of like mom here at school and you get to track the kids," Rodriguez said. "You get to invest in their lives and you are with them for a year after they graduate too."

It costs about $70,000 to fund a JAG program, according to RPSB Supervisor of Career and Technical Education LaRunda Hobbs Pierce. A majority is funded by grants and the rest from the school district.

But, ASH's principal Jonathan Garrett said the benefits outweigh the costs.

"We'd actually like to have another JAG teacher next year," Garrett said. "I mean we filled up the JAG program we have this year in a matter of days and I know we could do the same with another one."

Down the road, Bolton's second JAG program is helping attendance.

"Right now, we are able to help and support right at 100 kids who graduate from high school that normally would drop out of high school," said Bolton Principal Clovis Christman. "So, we are excited to have it here."

Rapides Parish now has nine JAG programs in total, the most in the state of Louisiana.

"It means that they want better for their lives," said new Bolton JAG Specialist Brandie Crain. "That they want to learn how to be better, how to be successful, and that is a great opportunity for me because they are so pleasant to work with."

Spaces in each program are limited and one Bolton senior is thankful a spot opened up for her this year.

"I think I'll have a better advantage of probably doing something after high school because I get the opportunity to go explore other options," said Bolton Senior Dayjanaye Chapman.

And while Spivey wishes ASH got this program prior to her senior year, she is grateful for the motivation it brings her.

"That's basically to me what this class is," Spivey said. "Ya know, what we are doing right now is the dream job, one day I could do that, be the CPA of Microsoft, probably not going to happen, but you never know."

Rapides Parish Superintendent Nason Authement is now on Governor John Bel Edward's JAG-LA Board of Directors.

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