Highland Home’s JAG program celebrates successes

Published 7:40 pm Sunday, October 30, 2022

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

Highland Home School hosted an installation and Induction ceremony for the school’s chapter of Jobs for America’s Graduates on Oct. 17 and invited members of the community to attend.

Leslie Flowers, a JAG specialist, and JAG students used the ceremony as an opportunity to celebrate their progress. 

“Through JAG, we are changing the lives of these talented students, students that are going to change the world,” Flowers said. “Their hard work has built this program. This is a big step for us and our community as we are building a reputation that HHS JAG is producing work-ready and college-ready young adults”

The 2022 national average for high school graduation was 84%. The graduation rate for Alabama JAG students was 100%, a statistic Flowers is proud to achieve. 

“These numbers show that we have 16 more high school graduates per 100 compared to the rest of the nation,” Flowers said. “Think about what this means to small communities. 16 more people work-ready right out of high school, that will pay taxes, not need public assistance, and that will be confident enough to vote and contribute to society. Over the next 10 years, that would be 160 more people involved in the economics of our county.”

Personnel with the Alabama State Department of Education were on hand to recognize the JAG Knowledge Bowl team’s national win and celebrate the growing program.

Dr. Jimmy Hull, Assistant State Superintendent for Career and Technical Education/Workforce Development served as the keynote speaker. 

“What an exciting start to the week – celebrating these students and presenting National Championship rings to the Knowledge Bowl team,” Hull said. “JAG is preparing you for what life will look like after high school when you go on to college or start a career or a combination of both. JAG builds specific skills needed to be a good employee, and potentially a good company leader or business owner. We are looking to you to fill the gaps caused by a shortage of leadership, to be tomorrow’s leaders, and make the world a better place. Strive to do better daily and be a blessing to others.  Have a plan, know what to expect from yourself, and really work toward your goals.”

Following Dr. Hull’s speech, a National Championship ring presentation was given by Craig Collins, Education Administrator.

“Mrs. Flower’s leadership is unparalleled not only in Alabama but across the nation,” Collins said. “This is a model program and her students represent themselves, Highland Home School, the county, the state of Alabama, and indeed, this country very well.”

Isaiah Nickerson, JAG media historian and senior at HHS, shared his JAG experience.

“I wasn’t doing well in English, and a friend suggested I join,” Nickerson said. “It has been amazing. JAG is a family. We help each other and make things happen, like the program today. Mrs. Leslie is one of the most hard-working teachers at Highland Home. She is always very energetic. What she does, and what all our teachers and administrators do, is very motivating. Thank you all for that.”

Event attendees participated in a tour of the JAG classroom and refreshments where Nolleigh Reaves, a senior at HHS and JAG member, had her business, “Born Pretty Designs” on display. According to Reaves, JAG has taught her invaluable lessons that helped get her business up and running. 

“JAG gave me skills and confidence to start my business,” Reaves said. “Mrs. Flowers helped me figure out how to incorporate both my passions and taught me how to market it. I started my business to promote Self-confidence and self-care because I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues, and I want people to know that they were born pretty and everyone has reasons to be confident. Life is busy and I want to encourage people to take time for themselves, and enjoy things that make life great, like cake.”

As the crowd enjoyed refreshments, Terrin Brown, senior at HHS, approached Craig Collins, Education Administrator for the Alabama State Department of Education, seeking advice on where he should attend college.

Collins said a helpful factor in his decision-making process for choosing a college came from a trip as a ninth-grader to an FFA convention at Tuskegee. 

“For the first time, I saw professors, veterinarians, and others that looked like me, people in all sorts of roles I never thought I could fill,” Collins said. “You’ve heard that cliche, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ That day I decided I would become like the people I saw and knew I would go to Tuskegee … However, the key for many is to just go. Do what will help you meet your career goals, and just go, wherever that may take you.”

For more information visit alabamajag.org.