Cassville student soars to national recognition

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Kenzie Dilbeck placed in the top 10 in the nation for her new program, the JAG Success Center. Cassville was one of two schools in the state competing in project-based learning. Contributed photo

JAG program a haven of opportunity for Dilbeck

The Cassville school district implemented a new program for its high school students last year, Jobs for American Graduates (JAG), and one of this year’s students has set a high mark for future participants.

The program aims to help students get jobs after they graduate by developing employability and survival skills for after high school.

In the last year, Cassville students have had many opportunities through the JAG program.

Kenzie Dilbeck, Cassville junior and JAG student, recently won an essay contest where she wrote a 1,200-word essay answering the question, ‘Once you graduate from high school and begin your career, how do you plan to give back to your community and help others?”

Dilbeck’s success didn’t end there. Following the essay contest, she then placed in the top 10 in the nation for national project-based learning.

“I started the project about a month ago,” Dilbeck said. “On Dec. 3, I competed virtually at the school.”

Dilbeck came up with the idea last year, when she was a sophomore.

“I decided to enter it into this year’s competition,” she said. “Last year, the JAG program was so new we didn’t compete.’

Dilbeck created the JAG Success Center, which will offer tutoring from JAG members to primary and intermediate students.

“We would also get the chance to talk about the JAG program and help get those younger students interested in it,” she said. “It would have been cool to go to D.C. to present, but the experience virtually was neat, too. I am proud of myself. I have never had an experience like this before.”

Dilbeck said she appreciated the opportunity to do something nationally.

“I plan to continue working in the JAG program next year,” she said. “This year, I am a social awareness officer, so I post events and what we do. It is all about getting the word about JAG out.”

In the future, Dilbeck hopes to become a nurse.

“JAG caught my attention, and I became passionate about it,” she said. “It helped me get my first job at Walmart.”

Dilbeck said JAG helped her through the interview process and taught her communication and confidence, as well.

“I would encourage and tell younger students interested in JAG how it has helped me,” she said. “It is a good class for your future because it prepares you for the future.”

To be top 10 in the nation is a big deal for Dilbeck.

“There was another Cassville student who competed in financial literacy and another in public speaking,” she said. “For the future of the JAG success Center, after COVID-19, I hope to help children who struggle more. I also hope to encourage those students in middle school to join JAG when they are sophomores. We are trying to build relationships with these students, as well.”

There were two schools in Missouri who competed for project-based learning, and Cassville was one of them.

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