PITTSBURG, Kan. - The name of the program is called "Jobs for America's Graduates" or JAG for short. It identifies students at risk of dropping out of high school, then helps them stay in school, graduate, and go right into the workforce. If they chose, they can even go into to college, which is where Ivon Rueda plans to be this time next year.
"I will be the first one to graduate high school and go to college," said Ivon Rueda, JAG program participant.
This is the first year the Pittsburg School District is being honored for their success with the program. The JAG program specialist, Nidia Lopez, says for her, the award amounts to icing on the cake.
"The best part of being a mentor and teacher with this particular program is that you get those students who come back and realize how the program made a difference for them," said Nidia Lopez, JAG-K Specialist.
Each year, about 50 juniors at Pittsburg High School are selected for the program, which Rueda says changed her life.
"I don't think my grades would have been as good, I would have been lost," said Rueda.
"The goal is for each student to have a goal, to have a plan in place for post secondary education or the workplace. So my job is to help them figure out what they want to do," said Lopez.
To make that happen, Lopez works closely with the Kansas Works Employment Program, as well as local colleges and universities.
"It's helped me through a lot of things, like helping me to find a job. It's helped me get better grades and better myself," said Rueda.
PHS has been a partner in the program since its inception in 2013. Rueda plans on going into a medical field next year at Missouri Southern.