Sydney Bell - Mr JAG Louisiana

SYDNEY BELL, of Winnsboro, accepts a plaque honoring his accomplishments and being named Mr. JAG Louisiana. Franklin Parish School system Assistant Superintendent Wiley McClary hands the plaque to Bell as Superintendent Lanny Johnson congratulates him. (Sun photo by Joe Curtis)

When Sydney Bell first started Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) at Franklin Parish High School as a freshman, he admitted he did not know much about the elective.

But that quickly changed.

Bell, now a senior, found his “niche,” matured and was named Mr. JAG Louisiana for 2019.

“I feel that it is in JAG that Sydney found his niche,” said Susanne Delhoste, JAG Specialist at FPHS. “With a heart of gold for others, he immediately became interested and served in the capacity of VP of community service.”

Bell would serve in the position for three years until he transitioned to the office of FPHS chapter president.

“As a freshman coming into Franklin Parish High School, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Bell said. “I had no direction or goals and had a low self-esteem, and I was always getting into trouble.”

After his counselor explained what JAG was, Bell said, “I thought that was perfect for me.”

JAG is a nonprofit youth development program dedicated to helping at-risk young people graduate from high school and make successful transitions to postsecondary education, according to the group’s website. JAG has served more than 500,000 young since its inception in 1980.

During the program, Bell was a stocker at a local grocery store for three years from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bell used the money to help support his mother who was diagnosed with Leukemia.

While working in JAG, Bell’s direction became clearer, and he has decided to pursue a career in marketing.

Additionally, he attended numerous field trips, career interest inventories and aptitude tests.

Bell was selected Mr. JAG Louisiana from over 100 state chapters. He also was one of two students who recently spoke at the Governor’s mansion. He spoke to Gov. John Bel Edwards, National JAG President and CEO Kenneth M. Smith and members of Louisiana’s JAG board which is comprised of governor’s from around the country, investors and stake holders from AT&T, Entergy, Microsoft, Tyson Foods and GE.

“Sydney has become a patient yet enthusiastic leader in JAG,” Delhoste said.

Bell plans to attend Louisiana Delta Community College and is employed with the National Rural Conservation Service.

“Getting involved in JAG was one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” Bell said. “I have become a better person and a better student because of JAG.”

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