Young people serving their communities took the spotlight recently at the Jobs for America’s Graduates-SC (JAG-SC) annual Career Development Conference.
The annual event, held April 30 at Brookland Baptist Banquet and Conference Center in West Columbia, featured more than 600 students from 25 high schools.
U.S. Marshal Kelvin Washington, who delivered a motivational speech to the group, encouraged the young people to place service over self.
“Take care of the folks that are not in a position to take care of themselves,” Washington said. “Changes in your community begin with changes in you.”
JAG-SC students’ dedication to improving their communities was evident in projects presented at the conference. This academic year, JAG-SC schools partnered with the Jefferson Awards Students in Action program. Founded by former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1972, the Jefferson Awards Foundation is dedicated to activating and celebrating public service.
So far this school year, JAG-SC schools logged more than 25,000 volunteer hours, according to Jefferson Awards Regional Director Heather Love. During the conference, the top three schools delivered oral presentations outlining their service projects. Swansea High, which runs a food bank for the community, received top honors.
Also at the conference, Manning High was crowned the state champion after collecting the most points from all of the day’s competitive events, which covered topics such as interviewing skills, public speaking, decision making and essay writing.
Luis Romero of Swansea High won the Governor’s Award, given annually to recognize the JAG-SC student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and commitment to his or her goals.
Coordinated by the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, JAG-SC is a high school dropout prevention program focused on academic success and career readiness skills. Currently in its 10th year, it has served more than 8,000 students.
With the help of a dedicated career specialist at each participating school, JAG-SC students work on skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment. The S.C. program has been consistently recognized at the national level for its success in equipping young people for life beyond high school.