Originally published: December 29
Centennial adds new elective focused on leadership and skill acquisition
UTICA — Centennial Public Schools will be adding a new elective to its high school curriculum starting in the 2024-25 school year.
The Jobs for America’s Graduates class will be an elective for high schoolers at Centennial interested in learning leadership and professional skills.
Colin Bargen, Centennial High School Principal, said that there will be “a lot of hands-on learning activities” in the class.
The focus, Bargen said, will be “on work skills, team work, communication. Things like that.”
“There is a lot of follow up from the JAG instructor, who keeps tabs on the kids even after they have graduated, while they are employed.”
“That’s a unique part of the program,” Principal Seth Ford added.
The school does not have to pay for the salary of the instructor, at least for the first few years of the program, Superintendent Ford said. After that, the school pays a very small portion of the salary, Ford said — but it’s nothing like the cost of hiring a new teacher.
Eventually Centennial hopes to have about 45 to 60 students enrolled in the program, including middle school students.
“The hope for the program is to catch the kids who are bright and have skills, but maybe school is not their favorite thing. This is a method to help them have success once they leave,” Ford said.
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a national non-profit organization started in 1980 to improve students’ graduation rates and career success. The Nebraska program is supported by United Way of the Midlands, a social services program based in Omaha, according to the press release.
Centennial is not the first school in the area to start a JAG program.
York Public Schools Superintendent Mitch Bartholomew said, “YPS is proud to have implemented JAG four years ago. During the time students have focused on career skills and leadership development. We are excited to add a JAG specialist at [York Middle School] for the 2024 — 25 school year.”