By Nico Roesler
Published in Basehor Sentinel, May 7, 2014
Members of the Basehor-Linwood education community came together this year to present the first Jobs for America's Graduates program scholarships at April's Academic Awards night.
The Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) program is an activities-based learning program in which students have the opportunity to job shadow, hear from different professionals and work to find a potential career field or course of study after high school. Basehor-Linwood High School was one of 25 schools in the state, and the largest, to start a JAG program this year.
Just one week after a Basehor-Linwood Education Foundation meeting in February in which USD 458 Board of Education Vice-President Lori Van Fleet suggested beginning a scholarship for the JAG students, five donors were on board. The Basehor Lions Club, the Linwood Lions Club, Dave Gunn and family, Drs. Doug and Lisa Stehno-Bittel, and Don and Donna Broksieck all contributed $500 to form a combined $2,500 amount to award to two seniors from the program continuing their education after graduating from BLHS.
Five of the eight seniors in the JAG program applied for the scholarships by writing essays and by speaking with the selection committee in an interview.
“These seniors are the first to graduate as members of the JAG program at Basehor-Linwood High School, and I’m so proud to see that they not only stepped up, but excelled when given the opportunity,” BLHS JAG Specialist Mary Guerra said in a press release this week.
The JAG scholarship recipients, announced at the Academic Awards Night event, were Alex Van Erem, Kyle Foster, Zach Hamel, Johnny Hopper and Eli Vinson.
“Because each applicant clearly had plans to continue their education after high school, it was a very tough decision to choose just two of them, as initially planned,” Van Fleet said. “All five had great applications and each had plans for next year, so we decided that each student should be rewarded with a portion of the scholarship amount.”
JAG students have a graduation rate of over 90 percent, and approximately 80 percent of those graduates go on to postsecondary education, military service and/or full-time employment, according to the non-profit youth development program. Students selected for the program are those from the bottom quarter of each class academically. At BLHS, four freshman, 14 sophomores, 12 juniors and eight seniors are participating in the program.