By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
A group of local teens is focused on the future and plans to reach for the stars. Members of the Moapa Valley High School JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) Career Associaton gathered last week at the Old Overton Gym for their annual Initiation and Installation Ceremony. The theme that the students chose for the evening was “Reach For the Stars.” Students planned the evening, prepared the meal, did the set up, and even decorated for the evening themselves.
JAG is a national organization dedicated to helping kids stay in school through graduation and prepare them for college, trade school and the workforce. Students learn life skills like resume writing, budgeting, event planning, leadership, and more. The popularity of the local program continues to grow with this year’s membership at 28 students strong.
The evening began with MVHS JAG advisor, Tammy Archibald expressing pride in her students for their many talents and achievements. She introduced her two JAG presidents: Alysa Jensen and Mitchell Smith. Jensen and Smith, in turn, introduced the remaining JAG members one by one as they came up to the front and took their seats.
Jensen told the audience about her history with JAG, which began when she was frequently in the classroom hanging out with her friends who were in JAG. She jumped in and began participating. This year she is not only president, but will be traveling to Washington D.C. to represent MVHS in a conference there later this year.
“Everyone should want to take this class,” Jensen said. “It sets you up to succeed in adulthood.”
The keynote speaker for the evening was Assemblyman Chris Edwards. Edwards praised the students’ efforts but encouraged them to seek for more. He incorporated the students’ theme of “Reach for the Stars” into his address.
“I would encourage you to reach for the stars, but not necessarily the closest one,” Edwards said. “Look for what you are going to be the best at and reach for that star no matter how far away it may seem. Maybe you can even reach a little higher. You never know what opportunities will come your way.”
Edwards shared personal experiences from his life that supported the idea that one never knows where the smallest opportunities may lead.
Students were sworn into the association and each was given a certificate and presented with the JAG pin.
MVHS Vice-principal Pledger Solomon concluded the evening, saying, “I’ve known these kids since elementary school and they are truly a fine bunch of kids and I’m grateful for the impact they’ve had on my life.”
Solomon then echoed Edwards, saying, “Reaching your potential is what will make you happy in life. Don’t short-change yourselves or give in to excuses. Don’t listen to the negative stuff; be a positive person. You all have the ability to do whatever you want to do.”
MVHS junior Mitchell Smith was pleased with how the evening went. “JAG is really good because it has helped everyone, especially me,” he said. “It has helped me build my resume, learn about jobs, and develop self-confidence.”
Archibald was pleased with how the students ran the program, the great turnout, and how the evening went. “All the kids did really well and I’m so proud of them,” she said. “We have an exciting year planned and I have a really great group of kids to work with. We’re really looking forward to a great year.”