SL students plead to save JAG
Three Storm Lake students and the daughter of a former president pushed for continued funding of a state student jobs program Tuesday.
Once considered at-risk students, Tonya Johnson, Phouthai Inthonsay and Bandaluck Sayarath said the Iowa Jobs for America's Graduate Inc. program allows them to network with employers and work their own business.
They joined Julie Nixon Eisenhower and Iowa Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson in Des Moines to lobby for the program.
Nixon Eisenhower, daughter of former President Richard Nixon, is married to David Eisenhower, grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
A member of JAG's national board of directors, Eisenhower said the students' volunteer efforts, such as mentoring junior high students, have a positive effect on towns like Storm Lake.
"Giving back to a community is so important," Eisenhower said. "Not just for the students' self esteem but for the community as well."
JAG is a national school-to-work program that matches at-risk high school students with employers.
Johnson, a senior at Storm Lake High School, partnered with a local coffee shop owner to run a coffee cart business at the school. The business has nearly paid for itself, Johnson said.
Inthonsay, now a student at Iowa Central Community College, said the program helped her decide to pursue a degree in international business.
Sayarath, a Storm Lake junior, said he wants to be a member of a police SWAT team.
"The program has helped me explore different careers," Sayarath said.
Ten Iowa schools including Storm Lake participate. The program operates with a $500,000 budget drawn from public and private funds. School districts pay $5,000 each.
The program targets dropout rates, welfare dependency, lack of job training and youth crime trends in the state.