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Hot Springs World Class High School receives grant

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and leadership from the Jobs for America's Graduates program, Arkansas Department of Career Education, and other Arkansas business leaders recently presented the Hot Springs School District with a $25,000 Entergy grant to fund a Jobs for Arkansas Graduates program at Hot Springs World Class High School.

JAG is an affiliate of Jobs for America's Graduates Inc., a national school-to-work program that focuses on project-based learning. Hutchinson serves on its board of directors.

JAG has 125 programs in Arkansas school districts and ranks second in the nation for scholarships received by JAG students -- more than $10 million went to the programs last year. With personalized skills development facilitated by JAG instructors and interaction with local businesses and various career options through internships and service learning projects, JAG students receive a nontraditional approach to becoming career ready, a news release said.

"By investing in students now, we are helping our economy tomorrow. Students in the JAG program graduate ready to enter the workforce with realistic expectations about employer requirements, and passion about how they will make a difference in society," Hot Springs School District Superintendent Stephanie Nehus said in the release.

"Our Junior Academy JAG program has been extremely successful with seventh- and eighth-grade students. We are excited to create a high school program so that students can continue in the program, or choose to participate during any period from seventh through 12th grade."

JAG is a data-driven initiative with program applications approved by an oversight board and subject to stringent audits to ensure that schools and administrators are held accountable for the project-based curriculum and job placement services that are promised by the program. The program is known for helping to create very high graduation rates among student participants, with 95 percent of JAG students receiving high school diplomas.

While JAG is new to Hot Springs World Class High School, it has been in place at Hot Springs Junior Academy for more than two years. Under the current JAG Middle School curriculum at the HSSD Junior Academy, 42 competency areas are implemented, including studying, communications, character development, and self-understanding.

Among various community service and school project efforts, JAG students are known for their aggressive entrepreneurial efforts as the Junior Academy JAG operates a fully operational company called Hot Springs Button Co., the release said. Students design and make buttons for various causes, and sell buttons at school events and local organizations. The company effort allowed Junior Academy JAG instructor Stephanie Goodman to implement core competencies of the program through a creative business effort that was entirely designed by students.

The school district is adding the JAG Multi-Year Program curriculum at the high school, which has 81 competency areas, including job attainment and interviewing, job survival, leadership and self-development, workplace responsibility, teamwork, adaptability, work ethics, and complex problem-solving.

The new program at the high school will build on the efforts of the JAG Program at the Junior Academy, the release said. Current students enrolled are a mixture of students previously enrolled in the program and a few newcomers. Aaron Cooper will be the high school JAG facilitator.

School on 09/30/2018

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