About 120 high school students from across the state competed in 12 different categories at the 13th annual Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Career Development Conference on May 7.

There were six award winners from northeast Indiana.

The conference again was held virtually this year at the Indiana Government Center in downtown Indianapolis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Administered by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), JAG is a state-based, national non-profit organization that assists high-school students with earning their diploma.

The annual event allows JAG students to show off their talents and compete for financial prizes with their peers. This year, regional winners were challenged to compete virtually and send their efforts in for judging. DWD Chief Workforce Officer Mike Barnes, Associate Chief of Workforce Programs Leslie Crist and Director of Youth Initiatives Brianna Morse presented awards, which were broadcast on Facebook Live.

“The JAG program helps students to graduate from high school with a better sense of self, including their capability of setting and achieving career goals,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said. “JAG students participating in this year’s event received the recognition that they so rightly deserve.”

Northeast Indiana award recipients included: Connor Trout, first place, writing skills, Manchester High School; Kaesyn Lester, first place, public speaking, Manchester High School; Karen Jimenez, first place, employability skills, Manchester High School; Simon Byers and Jordan Dragoo, first place, entrepreneurship plan, Wabash High School; MIranda Garcia, second place, career presentation, DeKalb High School; and Wabash High School, second place, chapter marketing plan.

Kelsey Pease, a senior from Clarksville High School, took home the 2021 Outstanding Senior award, the most prestigious award, honoring the student that extols the virtues of JAG and commits to doing so in the future.

Kylee Simison of Blackford High School finished in second place, and Collin Spear of Mitchell High School placed third.

Northeast Indiana Works oversees JAG programs regionally and they are carried out by Brightpoint.