Jumpstart program helps students’ transition to junior high at Eastland

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 31, 2011

 Students at Eastland Junior High’s Jumpstart transition program make a mess with “elephant toothpaste.”

Students at Eastland Junior High’s Jumpstart transition program make a mess with “elephant toothpaste.”

Photo by Sara Kandel


ROSEVILLE — School started early at Eastland Junior High when staff and honor students joined together to welcome new students to the school last week.

More than 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders attended Eastland’s Jumpstart program Aug. 23-24 to get a sneak peek of what to expect this fall.

“It’s a transition program,” said school counselor Cindy Fulkerth, “designed to help them so they don’t feel as nervous on the first day of school — and it’s fun. This year, we even had one student who came here new last year and attended Jumpstart and had so much fun they wanted to come again this year.”

The program ran from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day and included a school tour; art, science and life skills projects; and a pizza lunch.
“I really liked making the name acronym poster in the computer lab,” said incoming seventh-grader Callista Verven. “I can’t wait to start school here. The band teacher seems so awesome — I play the trombone, and for my other elective, I’m going to take the 3-D art class.”

Students at Eastland take three elective classes each year — band counts as two electives. The school offers an assortment of electives that range from fine art and music to technology and health and fitness.

Students who attend the Jumpstart program start the day with a short video made by Principal Paul Schummer that lists the many electives, clubs and organizations offered to students.

“The video highlights our staff, our coaches and our students,” Schummer said. “It’s on the website, but we show it to the students to give them an overall idea about the school before we start the tour and other activities.”

Eastland has been running the transition program for a decade. It was recognized by the Michigan Department of Education for its success in helping students’ transition to middle school.

“We survey incoming sixth-graders, and one of their main anxieties is about doing their lockers, so we give them time to practice that, take them on a school tour and have a life skills class that will help them understand what to expect and prepare for junior high,” Schummer said.

In addition to the life skills class the kids also make silkscreen-imprint Eastland T-shirts, make a poster with their picture and an acronym for their name and go to science class where they get to have fun with a messy experiment dubbed “elephant toothpaste.”

Science teacher Sally Dodge said the experiment doesn’t really yield toothpaste, but it’s called that because of the baking soda and dish soap ingredients that, when combined with yeast, make a bubbly fun mess that the students love.

Dodge teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science. She, like the other teachers and staff that come in for Jumpstart, is volunteering her time. It’s a volunteer effort that a dozen National Junior Honor Society members also took part in this year.

“I decided to come in because I like helping people, and I really think Jumpstart helps people out. It helps them to have a better school year,” said NJHS ninth-grader Josh Rolder.

His peers in NJHS echoed his sentiments that the program really does work. As they stood in line waiting for pizza at the end of the second day, the cafeteria was filled with laughter, and at least for the moment, no one looked too nervous about starting middle school on Sept. 6.