Mayor, Commissioner, Honor New Haven JAG Students
New Haven’s first Initiation and Installation (I&I) Ceremony was a festive and well-attended event, with Mayor Toni Harp, state of Connecticut Labor Department Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer, Superintendent Garth Harries, Senator Gary Winfield, and many other district and community leaders turning out to recognize JAG’s students being formally sworn in to the Career Association.
But student contributions had equal weight, with a riveting musical performance by Ravel Martinez and moving speech by Career Association President Zakeya Herring.
“I know the name can lead to thinking this is just about jobs but this program is so much more than that,” Ms. Herring said. “JAG is a way to help people establish and develop values and personalized goals. Its has taught us about professionalism, diversity, leadership, pushes us to want to get involved in future civic and social awareness and community outreach projects.”
Mayor Harp led off by thanking Commissioner Palmer for helping bring JAG to Connecticut and to New Haven.
“This is vital to the health of the city,” said Mayor Harp. “JAG helps young people understand that good academic attendance leads to good employment, and each job contains the opportunity for learning and promotion and advancement.”
“When I was teaching, I saw a lot of very bright students who had barriers, but who had potential,” said Commissioner Palmer. “I wish JAG had been there for them. I believe this program can really change lives. Please remember to use your successes now to support your families and communities. Keep learning, be able to change when needed.”
Alderman Carlton Staggers used his keynote address to urge students to focus on academics and to pay attention to relationships. “Be nice to everyone,” he said. “You never know who will be sitting in front of you someday, interviewing you for a job!”
As JAG CT’s Director, I took the opportunity to thank both Commissioner Palmer and her Executive Assistant, Art Perry, for their extraordinary efforts in bringing JAG to CT. Long before JAG CT had any staff or an institutional home, Art and Sharon were exploring the program, visiting other states to see it in action, and working incredibly hard to build support and bring it here. JAG CT would not exist without their efforts.
New Haven’s JAG programs, at Hillhouse and New Horizons, have each elected officers to lead the Career Association, which will now reinforce JAG’s leadership and professional skills training by designing and carrying out community services and civic engagement projects throughout the year. They were sworn in, and each JAG student also recited the Career Association Creed as they were sworn in as members.
Thanks to the all who attended: members of JAG CT’s Advisory Board, Dr. Martin Estey and Steve Pynn, in addition to Commissioner Palmer and Art Perry; Eddie Cajigas of the Department of Labor, Alicia Caraballo of the Board of Education, Suzanne Lyons, Zakiyah Baker of Hillhouse, Paulette Jackson of New Horizons, Jason Bartlett, Gemma Joseph Lumpkin, Kermit Carolina and many others. And thanks also to Specialists Nicole Jones of Hillhouse and Courtney Sak of New Horizons, and their students, whose hard work and attention to detail made the event a success.