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Grand Island, NE 68802
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JumpStart6 program bridges gap for incoming sixth grade students


Middle school program runs July 30-Aug. 1; deadline to register is July 15

Grand Island Public Schools will offer a new program this summer for students going into sixth grade in the 2019-2020 school year.

The program, JumpStart6, is possible due to a $50,000 grant from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. JumpStart6 will be 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., July 30-Aug. 1 at Barr, Walnut and Westridge Middle Schools. The deadline to register is July 15. The new program will allow incoming sixth graders a few days to familiarize themselves with their new middle schools and the higher expectations.

“GIPS knows the transition from fifth grade in elementary to sixth grade in middle school is a big change for students,” said Jennifer Worthington, Chief of Strategic Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement. “Many students may feel anxious or uneasy making the transition. The experience at JumpStart6 will help students feel more comfortable and prepared to succeed in middle school.”

Each middle school will have specific activities planned during the three-day program to support incoming sixth graders. Teachers will be available to meet incoming sixth graders so they can start building positive relationships. Team building and enrichment activities will also be offered at the schools, as well as scavenger hunts to help students navigate the buildings. Students will also learn about expectations and how to navigate through their first year of middle school.

“NCFF has been a great partner to GIPS,” Worthington said. “They help support before and after school programs, as well as summer programs.”

Worthington said when the idea for JumpStart 6 was presented to the three middle school administrators, they all agreed there was a need.

Jeff Cole, associate vice president of school community partnerships at NCFF, said the organization recognizes how important smooth transitions between grades and schools are to ensuring student success. Cole said that’s why NCFF is excited to be able to partner with GIPS on JumpStart6.

“Nebraska Children and Families Foundation has a track record of partnering with GIPS on innovations in out of school-time programs, like makerspace, that lead to student engagement in school,” Cole said. “We think JumpStart6 will likewise provide the supports all youth need to be successful in school and can be a model for other districts across the state.”

The middle schools have taken ownership of their JumpStart6 program and have personalized it to their building, coming up with different themes and names. Staff and administrators organizing the JumpStart6 programs agreed it will help bridge the gap in the transition from elementary to middle school.

Shannon Ripp, a science teacher at Barr, is an organizer of Barr’s JumpStart6 program.

“The JumpStart6 program will help relieve that anxiety most incoming sixth graders have starting the school year,” Ripp said.

Parents will also have a specific session to attend during the program, since many may be new middle school parents, too.

“GIPS has a lot to offer that parents may not know about,” said Kayla Wichman, assistant principal at Westridge.

Rachel Catlett, a school counselor at Westridge, said the JumpStart6 program will also allow students to meet their administrators, which is important in building relationships and for student success.

Jill Kimbrough, Walnut teacher and JumpStart6 program organizer, said JumpStart6 offers more opportunities for students to be prepared for middle school. Students can be comfortable, confident and ready for middle school, which will set them up for success.

To register for Barr’s JumpStart6 program: Visit www.gips.org/barrjumpstart6

To register for Walnut’s JumpStart6 program: Visit www.gips.org/walnutjumpstart6

To register for Westridge’s JumpStart6 program: Visit www.gips.org/westridgejumpstart6

Media Inquiries
Jack Sheard, Marketing & Communications
308-385-5900 Ext. 1127
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