Highland Home JAG team brings home county’s first national title

Published 4:25 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Highland Home’s JAG (Jobs For America’s Graduates) team participated in the National JAG Career Development Conference (NCDC) and national competition in Dallas, Texas earlier this month, May 5-7, where they brought home Crenshaw County’s first national title and two top 10 placings. Over 600 JAG students from all over the nation attended the championship event with Alabama having the second largest showing of JAG participants.

The school’s JAG Knowledge Bowl Team won it all in Dallas and will soon be sporting national championship rings. The four-member team consisted of three ninth graders- Amber Majors, Cheyenne Kinman, Savannah Edgar and one-eleventh grader-Dayana Acosta. Knowledge Bowl Team competitions provide students with the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills on various curriculum topics, JAG and parliamentary procedure. The NCA Knowledge Bowl consisted of questions asked by a moderator in a “buzzer style” round.

Highland Home’s JAG specialist, Leslie Flowers, said that the competition is challenging.

“Knowledge Bowl is the hardest JAG competition. The team had to learn around 300 pages worth of information and become extremely fluent with about 300 not so common vocabulary words. This team has worked so hard and has all this knowledge embedded within them. They can spew out the information they have learned at the drop of a hat. They beat every single team in the nation, and I am so proud of them and their hard work,” Flowers said.

Sabrina Crysell, graduating senior at Highland Home, participated in the Employability Skills event where she competed for a simulated job opening by developing a cover letter and resume and participating in a mock interview. Crysell had to choose a field in which she had experience or interest in. She chose to interview for the position of server as Crysell has worked as a server at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Greenville for about three years. Her winning cover letter and resume put her in the top 10 in the nation and has since helped secure her a position with Lambert’s Cafe-Home of Throwed Rolls in Foley where she will work while attending college at Coastal Alabama Community College.

Highland Home’s JAG instructor said that Crysell is going to go far.

“I am a past HR manager, and I have seen thousands and thousands of resumes go across my desk and nothing compares to what Sabrina created. Her resume is incredible, and she interviews fantastically. Working as a server is certainly not her end game. She is going to do big things,” Flowers said.

Eleventh grader, Grace Dean, brought home another national top 10 win in the Public Speaking event. This event provides JAG members with the opportunity to improve knowledge and skills regarding effective oral communications. Competitors had to develop and present a 3–5-minute speech, related to a selected national NCA topic with this year’s subject being “How Jag Helped Me Find My Voice.”

Flowers said Dean is the most improved out of the group when it comes to confidence and courage.

“Grace spent hours and hours coming up with her speech. There was a lot of research to be done and lots of practice. She worked on presentation, body language, etiquette, pronunciation, and she learned to avoid “ums” and “wells.” She is good at engaging an audience and her boldness, persona, and ability to present impressed the district judges so that they invited her to compete nationally where she placed amongst the top 10 in the nation. Her confidence has grown immensely. She will succeed in life and have no problem with career advancement,” Flowers said.

For the first time in JAG’s history, the organization has begun electing a board of student officers in an effort to give JAG students better representation and a stronger voice when it comes to what happens within the program. Following the national win in Dallas, Amber Majors was elected vice president of Alabama JAG by the Alabama JAG Board.

Flowers said that all the Highland Home JAG students are going to move mountains.

“I began as a JAG specialist in January of this year and there was so much raw talent just right at my feet,” Flowers said. “We were able to take that talent and run with it. I am so proud of every one of the students and of the ones that were brave enough to move into competitions. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with such amazing and hardworking students and am very proud of their national titles.”

The mission of JAG is to help resolve our country’s dropout and transition problem by helping young people who are promising students overcome barriers to graduation in high school and become college and career ready. JAG is developing future leaders for families, employers, communities, states, and the nation.