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      Colleton county students to sing in Washington, D.C.

      JAG Specialist, Cyrus Birch III, is like a second father to many of his students (Rebecca Lamb/WCIV)

      By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com

      WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) -- Have you ever heard of JAG?

      Jobs for America's Graduates is a national organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk.

      At Colleton County High School, the students in the JAG program made a video to show why their program is so special.

      "This is something very small that was created and no one ever thought it would leave the state of SC let alone the county much less the state of SC, but it kind of took wings and flew," said Cyrus Birch III, JAG Specialist.

      The JAG organization liked it so much that it is now going to be a theme song for the dropout prevention program and the kids will be performing in Washington, DC, at the national conference.

      "The video was kind of a way to express ourselves - you know how we felt about the song, it was if it is to be, it's up to me," said Kashaira Givens, junior in the JAG program.

      JAG offers the kids opportunities that they might not get otherwise.

      "We take lots of college tours, and we have job internships,' said Daniel Stachewicz, junior at Colleton County High School.

      "I learn more on my telephone technique skills, interviewing skills, and seeing more of a career I might be interested in my future," said Kashaira Givens, a junior.

      The program shows them that they can succeed no matter what.

      "We help people who have barriers in their life that would sometimes prevent them from expanding or succeeding to the things that they want to do," said senior Chardea Barnes. "We are the backbone to guide them to what they should."

      Barriers can be things such as parents that didn't graduate from high school, parents that didn't graduate from college, not having work skills or having failed a year in school.

      "We all have barriers to succeeding and JAG helps the students to identify the barriers and give them skills that they need to navigate," said Renee Jamison, JAG Specialist.

      The JAG Specialists, Mr. Birch and Ms. Jamison also provide the students with a support network.

      "They are like a second family and along with the kids that is in the program," said Daquan Sutter, JAG senior. "They have always been there. We have always been one big family and they are there to help you if you need it."

      For this tightly knit JAG group in Colleton county, no barrier is too big.

      The JAG students will be leaving for Washington, DC Tuesday evening to perform their song at the national student leadership conference. They will return to the Lowcountry on Sunday.

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