The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

WHS students earn state awards


Courtesy of Renea Freeman

Wahkiakum seniors Kayla Wisner and Makaila Bigelow took home some awards from a Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) competition on Camano Island.

A new, two year old program at Wahkiakum High School is helping to prepare seniors for some of the issues that they will soon face as they look for employment and manage their own homes.

Adulting, JAG specialist Renea Freeman likes to call it.

JAG stands for Jobs for America's Graduates, and is a leadership class that teaches soft skills for employment. Students learn how to put together a resume, practice interview skills, and problem solving. This year, they learned how to handle money, even coming up with a business plan to sell snacks at school.

"They had to determine their inventory," Freeman said, "and take out a loan to buy their first inventory. They had to pay the loan back, and keep track of inventory. They had to work shifts. If they couldn't work, they had to find someone to work their shift."

They've also done career research, and worked on budgets, and what it will cost to live on their own.

This year, two students in the program, Makaila Bigelow and Kayla Wisner, traveled to Camano Island and participated in state competition for JAG with about 200 students from other schools around the state.

Bigelow and Wisner, along with a pair from another school, took a gold in team problem solving, when they came up with a plan to combat cyber-bullying.

"I think working with the other school made our team better than some of the teams from other schools," Bigelow said. "We had more variety, and ended up with a solution that applies to all kinds of schools."

The judge liked their solution so much, she is considering implementing it herself.

"The kids did a really good job," Freeman said, "especially with the problem solving."

There was also a job readiness test and mock interviews at the state competition.

Bigelow got a gold for job readiness and a silver in mock interviews. Wisner silvered in both events.

"JAG has really prepared me for these things," Bigelow said. "I felt like I was ready."

She is ready, expressing nervousness about the first real interview, and readiness to have the experience behind her.

Wisner enjoyed the competition and echoed Bigelow's comments about feeling prepared thanks to the new leadership class.

"It was really fun," she said. "At first it was really uncomfortable because there were a lot of people I didn't know there. But I feel really prepared to have a job interview now."

The pair will attend South Puget Sound Community College where Wisner will study English and Bigelow plans to study art.


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