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Students get a JumpStart into the School Year

By Ashlee Reed

After a pandemic year, the district's new JumpStart program is helping students close learning gaps and prepare for the new school year. Both elementary and middle school students were given the opportunity to participate in JumpStart, taking place at Williams Elementary School and Tippit Middle School respectively. 

Starting in mid-July, JumpStart students attended either a full or half-day of learning during which they participated in educational activities ranging from core content coverage to hands-on projects. District Chief Strategist Wes Vanicek sees JumpStart as a new way to reach students during the summer.

“This is not a remedial program. JumpStart is completely different from what we normally think of when we hear ‘summer school,’” said Vanicek. “With JumpStart, we want to flip the script. We’re not doing something to kids [like mandating summer school]; rather, we are doing something with kids through enrichment and hands-on learning opportunities.”

Some students have been learning remotely for the past year due to COVID; middle school JumpStart principal Sunny Schlaudt recognized that coming back to in-person learning could be a challenge for these students especially. Thus, JumpStart serves not only to cover academic content, but also to give students the chance to rejoin their school’s community. 

“It’s a really great opportunity to start building relationships with students and have them reconnect with their friends,” Schlaudt said. 

At Tippit, where over 150 middle school students have participated in JumpStart, the day begins with content coverage - reading, math, writing, and service learning projects. Benold 7th grader Cyrus Lopez, who was a remote-learner last year, is working on pitching a 5K run for his school. He has also received help with his math skills.

“JumpStart has helped me get better at math. When I go back to school I hope I can answer math questions more quickly than before,” Lopez said.

After content classes, students are sent to one club out of a wide variety of options, including arts and crafts, board games, Lego® robotics, dance, fitness, culture, and more. Because of the culture club offered at JumpStart, incoming freshman Carolina Hernandez has been able to practice her love for culinary arts. 

“Today I made Taiyaki for my culture class because I chose to study Japanese culture,”said Hernandez.

The admin teams for the program will report back during August to relay their findings about JumpStart. The students who participated in JumpStart will also give feedback about their experience. During the academic year, teachers will be asked to comment on whether or not JumpStart students seemed more prepared for the new school year. This data will inform how the JumpStart program is conducted next summer.

More information about JumpStart can be found at