El Dorado High School Extend's Jobs for America's Graduates program received a National 5 of 5 Award during their annual Initiation and Installation Ceremony on Dec. 8.
JAG-K President Lexie Edwards kicked off the ceremony and introduced guest speaker Van Williams.
Williams spoke to students about the importance of going above and beyond, which is the theme for JAG-K this year. He used his own story of volunteering his time and mentoring young African American men through River City Hoops and Real Men, Real Heroes.
A journalist and media specialist for most of his professional career, Williams explained that his passion was in working with youth. He worked to found a summer basketball program, River City Hoops, that helps teach teens how to develop relationships, network, and find scholarships to help them pursue their goals.
"It's not really about basketball itself, but to learn life skills through basketball," Williams said.
Through his own mentor, Williams learned to focus on his goals in life and the importance of giving back to the community. He encouraged students to make the most out of their potential and to find ways to contribute to the broader community.
Williams was recognized as a Young Community Leader and received the President's Call to Service Award from President Bush for his efforts to do good work in the community.
Along with a group of other like-minded men, Williams helped found Real Men, Real Heroes. Although it began as a social media campaign funded by a local philanthropist, they used the momentum from that campaign to form an actual program which provides positive male role models and resources to help teen boys grow into successful men.
After nearly 20 years in governmental media and communication roles, Williams decided he wanted to take more of a hands-on role in helping teens in his professional life. Now, he serves as a direct service provider for Youth Horizons, where he helps vulnerable youth discover ways to overcome challenges and become thriving citizens.
Williams challenged EHS students to look around and find ways they can use their strengths to improve the community around them.
"Make your community more fair and equitable for all people, not just some people," Williams said.
Special Education Teacher Effie Winn served as the Master of Ceremony. She swore in JAG-K officers Lexi Edwards, President; Kaden Carson, Vice President, and Cody Mick, Secretary. They promised to support the programs four goals: leadership development, career preparation, civic awareness, and social awareness.
Chapter members recited a pledge to accept the honor and responsibilities associated with being a JAG-K member and promised to conduct themselves in a manner that would reflect well on the JAG-K organization.
At the end of the ceremony, Region 4B JAG-K Manager Elizabeth Hamblin presented the National 5 of 5 Award to JAG-K Teacher Clarence Wagner for the Extend JAG-K program. This award is given to schools whose JAG-K program participants reach and exceed high benchmarks for graduation, employment, military enlistment, or pursuit of a post-secondary education.