Pioneer High School’s Jobs for America’s Graduates prepared, competed, and now are reflecting on their participation with high performing work teams through their experiences at the Career Development Conference.
While seniors at Carson High School were presenting their culminating senior projects on Monday, seven selected Pioneer High students were representing the Carson City School District at the Jobs for America’s Graduate statewide competition and conference, also known as the Career Development Conference, held at the Texas Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The road to the CDC was a long one for Pioneer High’s small but mighty career association chapter. As the JAG specialist at Pioneer High, I had the challenge of supporting our association in selecting the best participants for the competitions. Our chapter had decided back in February that it wanted the CDC participants to be selected because they would represent us the best and have the best chance at bringing home trophies. Essays were written, speeches presented, mock interviews conducted, and simulations experienced. Students then voted and the team and the alternates were chosen.
Jazmyn Conde, a senior chosen to compete in the public speaking event at the CDC, participated in the mock interviews and gave a speech prior to the team selection. She says the experience of having to compete and present before the CDC was essential in selecting a strong team rather than selecting the team just on application submissions like was done last year.
When Jazzy gave her speech in class, everyone was moved by her words and it encouraged her to focus on her inspiring message prior to the CDC. She placed fourth, just shy of tying for third place, and although rightfully disappointed, she left the CDC committed to her culminating success as a graduating senior as well as encouraging her JAG family to continue on their paths no matter the circumstances or outcomes.
Ramon Medrano, a sophomore who competed in the creative problem solving competition with junior partner Brian Rios, was also thankful and reflective about all of the class activities that helped him and Brian to prepare for their CDC challenge in which they developed a prototype massage chair that would eliminate the problem of uncomfortably distracting student chairs.
The JAG students at Pioneer High School, especially those who attended the CDC, are now using their experience in selecting and competing as a team to discuss and learn about the essential elements of high performing work teams. Commitment, dedication, reputation, work ethic, poise and respect were just some of the elements the students have already evaluated as being essential to performing well in a group.
Taylor Lynch, the senior recently elected JAG president, competed in employability skills at the CDC, “Placing fourth in employability skills really made me see that you don’t need a diploma to have job skills. JAG has helped me to realize that to achieve your goals, you have to keep going, you are your biggest motivator and are often the biggest thing standing in your own way of success.” She credited her success and the team’s success at the CDC to integrity. “We have to walk the walk we talk,” she says, “We have to be here for each other and dedicate our time to practice and prepare and we can’t even do that if our team isn’t of high integrity and commitment.”
Jeremiah Beauford, a freshman who competed in the public speaking event, had been excited about the CDC opportunity since way back in September at the first mentions of the competition. He recognizes just how important experiences like the CDC are in his personal development. Jeremiah was able to network and get to know his PHS JAG family more but also while at the conference Jeremiah learned something new from the people he spoke with on the bus to the workshop presenters and college and career fair vendors. He plans on sharing his experiences with others as he develops and leads the JAG program to future successes.
A conference and competition like the one held in Las Vegas on Monday can be a stressful and daunting experience, but the PHS JAG students prepared and competed together as a team, and I couldn’t be more proud to have my seniors be encouraged to help their JAG family next year even after they graduate or to have my blooming leaders who leave the CDC saying things like, “I want to run for president next year,” “No, I am going to be president,” “I am going to lead our team to victory.”
Jourdan Rowbottom is a teacher and JAG specialist at Pioneer High School.