Rock Hill students up for a JOG

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 26, 2003

PEDRO - During the past three years, a group of Rock Hill High School students have spent more than 1500 hours scouring Ironton alleys for trash, mowing grass and planting trees.

After all of this work, they have praise for the program that put them through it.

The Jobs for Ohio Graduates (JOG) program, in place in the district for five years, is a statewide program designed to help young people successfully transition from school to careers after graduation.

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This year, 26 of Rock Hill's graduating seniors have been involved with JOG, and program instructor Dan Harmon said 92 percent of the graduates already have full-time jobs. Some of them are also planning to attend college. The program is available to any high school student, but admission is still selective because of program space. Fifty students are involved altogether, and 150 applied. The participants are chosen by Harmon and the school principal and guidance counselor.

"They're hard workers," Harmon said. "They're dedicated, responsible, trustworthy and honest. That's something we preach to them."

Besides forms of academic tutoring that includes proficiency test help, the program also emphasizes community service work. The students at Rock Hill have performed work at the Mended Reeds home in Ironton, Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter in Ashland, Ky. as well as several cleanup days around the school and planting trees at the old building.

Willie Anderson, a junior, said he has never met any of the people who receive services from Mended Reeds or Safe Harbor, but he is sure that those people are grateful for what he and his classmates have done.

"They probably feel good because someone is willing to help them out," he said.

Besides how to dress for a job interview, take out a car loan and obtain car insurance, Anderson said he has learned useful job skills through the program, including how to cooperate with and help others.

"When you get your work done, you go over and help someone else," he said.

After high school, Anderson said he wants to go to college and become a police officer.

"It just seems to be something that's fun to do. I've been wanting to do that since I was little," he said.

Jamie Facemire, a sophomore, said he has learned the values of responsibility, dedication, honesty, controlling a temper and time management through the program. The time management has helped him balance the responsibilities of his schoolwork and community service projects.

"It's not very hard as long as you stay caught up and do your work," he said.

JOG student Travis Darby will graduate from Rock Hill this Sunday and plans to attend Ohio University Southern. Later, he hopes to compose music.

"It's been fun going to all the different places and meeting people from other schools," he said. "It gives you a sense of accomplishment to know that you've helped everyone else out."

Principal Steve Lambert praised the program, its students and Harmon. The program's academic assistance element not only helps students get through proficiency testing, but also helps build their self-esteem. Many high school students do not have extra help and because of proficiency testing and other state educational mandates, they are under tremendous pressure.

"We would lose a lot of kids without it," Lambert said.

Through doing community service work for places such as foster homes and nursing homes, students are also learning lessons about the situations of others that are often worse than their own, Lambert said.

"They may think that they're the only ones who have it tough and rough, but others do as well," he said. "They need to understand that people are needed to help other people. It opens their eyes to real life. It's an eye-opener for a lot of kids."