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GBHS JAG-K students place at Nationals
Students encouraged to 'Think Big'
GBHS JAG-K students Ashley Reddig, left, and Madison Carter, right, with JAG coach Jennifer Hopkins at Dallas for the National JAG conference.

Two individuals and two teams representing Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas placed in national competitions in Dallas last week, while several other participants finished in the top 10. These included Great Bend High School students Ashley Reddig, who placed second in the Employability Skills category, and Madison Carter, who placed in the top 10 in Prepared Speaking.

JAG National hosted the National Career Development Conference (NCDC) Thursday through Saturday, with a contingent from each state affiliate attending for training and competition.

Reddig and Carter traveled to Dallas with GBHS JAG-K instructor Jennifer Hopkins. Returning to Great Bend this week, Reddig commented on the motivational experience.

“I learned that you can do anything as long you take the ‘Jump,’” Reddig said. “You can set your mind to anything and accomplish it if you ‘Think BIG; and ‘Jump.’ Going forward I will take advantage of this experience to use my voice for advocating for myself. I was willing to be vulnerable and risk potential failure yet found unbelievable success by ‘Thinking BIG’! I am so unbelievably grateful for the support and encouragement from my family, community, teachers, and my JAG-K family.”

Carter also talked about what she learned and how she will put the lessons to use in the future.

“I learned that anything is possible as long as you work for it!” she said. “I will use this experience going forward by being more outgoing. Meeting new people is something I have fallen in love with. This experience truly heightened my love for others! This was such a fun experience. JAG will forever hold such a special place in my heart!”

This year, 29 JAG-K students reached the finals of virtual competitions that culminated the Regional and State Career Development Conferences held in the spring. The seven competition categories are Financial Literacy, Creative Decision Making, Prepared Speaking, Career Preparation, Project-Based Learning, Business Plan, and Employability Skills.

The results of the events were announced Saturday, May 7. 

Other JAG-K students who placed in the top three were:

• Career Preparation, 3rd place: Melanie Varela, Garden City High School 

• Creative Decision Making Team Competition, 3rd place: Grace Thompson, Caydan Pore, Jordan Smith, Kiowa County High School

•Project-Based Learning Showcase Team Competition 2nd place: Liberty Gilkey, Connor Pore, Karina Martinez, Kiowa County High School 

Other JAG-K students who placed in the top 10 in one or more events represented high schools from Coffeyville, Garden City, Goodland, Hiawatha, Junction City and Shawnee Mission.

“We are proud of the students that represented JAG-K at this national event,” said JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp. “They were from every region of the state, and it was amazing to watch them come together as a team and compete at a high level. They were also respectful and kind, which makes an event like this even more enjoyable.”

Concordia High School senior Ryah Klima was elected the National Career Association president, selected from candidates across the country to guide the student-led association.

“We are thrilled to have a JAG-K student elected as the first-ever president of the National Career Association,” said Knapp. “Ryah has overcome a lot of adversity in her life, and she will be a fabulous representative for JAG-K and the entire Jobs for America’s Graduates network of affiliates.”

JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally accredited, evidence-based model.

Great Bend USD 428 offers a high school JAG-K program and this fall it will also offer a middle school program. To learn more about JAG-K, visit, “Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas” on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.