The Cherry Blossom Festival wasn’t the only celebrating taking place in the District this April. Jumpstart held a citywide graduation for participating students on April 8. The celebration took place at Calvary Baptist Church in Chinatown where students from American, George Washington, Georgetown, and Howard University attended to celebrate themselves and the program itself.
Jumpstart is a national early education program dedicated to working towards making sure children in America enter Kindergarten inclined to succeed. The organization provides support with alphabet awareness, vocabulary and comprehension, phonemic awareness, and social-emotional skills in under-resourced communities.
Students are trained to work with children ages three to five. They prepare material, and session plans and implement them twice a week. Students do not only work with children during session plans, but they also assist teachers in their classroom assistance training for five hours a week.
“Knowing that Jumpstart is ending comes with a feeling of nostalgia, because from the beginning of the program to the end, I was able to see a lot of the children grow not only in their learning skills but also their mannerisms,” Laura Cameron, a sophomore broadcast journalism student at Howard University, says.
As a program under Americorps, Jumpstart participants who are considered Americorps members are required to fulfill 300 hours of service. This citywide celebration occurred just as the students entered their last week of Jumpstart to complete their final hours.
“It feels good knowing that I committed my time, I learned a lot and gave a lot, and I’m glad that I’m moving one and taking what I learned,” senior psychology major, Stephanie Thomas says.
The celebration began with lunch, followed with awards being presented to each team at a specific site. In between the awards, a game of Jumpstart Jeopardy began, where students were to answer questions pertaining to the Jumpstart program.
As the game of Jeopardy concluded, site managers were able to present their own special award to one member from their site.
“Watching Jumpstart develop over the year has been such a joy. In the beginning of the year, it is hard to always remember that we will “get there,” but every team has grown so much, that there is no doubt that they made a positive impact on every child they served this year,” Howard University’s site manager, Sonya Soloway, says as she reminisces about the school year.
Just as Jumpstart is ending for the year, it will be starting back up for the next school year to serve more students.
“I always love meeting the new Corps members, getting people excited about a new year, and meeting the new children we serve!” Soloway adds as she explains what she looks forward to next school year.