Getting by with a little help from our friends


Glenda Sidman

Jumpstarters hosted an after school party to meet and chat with the Jumpstartees on Sept. 14.

You just started your freshman year of high school. You receive news you and your family have to move to a whole different state the second week of school. You leave all your friends. At your new school, you feel alone, friendless. You sit by yourself at lunch. You have no one to talk to. Where do you go for help?

Five years ago, French teacher Glenda Sidman was approached by a fellow teacher, mentioning his freshman daughter was having trouble transferring to Jupiter from Wellington High and had not made a single friend.

The same day another teacher approached Sidman mentioning to her she was losing a good student to be homeschooled, as she had not made a single friend either.

“Two students in one day blew me away; something had to be done!” Sidman said.

That afternoon, Sidman held a meeting after school with her French students because she knew something had to be done. After hours of brainstorming, Jumpstarters was born. Jumpstarters is a club that helps students transition to a new school, supporting them socially.

Every student in Sidman’s period one class automatically earns the role of a Jumpstarter. The last ten minutes of class, her French students leave in pairs to search for new students in other first period classes. The Jumpstarters introduce themselves, offer assistance in locating classrooms, bathrooms, uncrowded stairwells or even bus loops. They offer to have lunch with new students if they have no one to sit with, and they exchange numbers to keep in touch.

To adequately target those students in need of Jumpstarters, guidance counselors and teachers hand out questionnaires for each new student to Jupiter High. The questionnaires ask about student preferences, among them favorite teams, sports, food, television shows and actors.

“The first two weeks in action, I didn’t teach a lick of French. My first period, which is always my advanced honors French class levels four and above, spent their time matching students new to our area to current students with like interests,” Sidman said.

Senior Isabelle Dewaele is finishing her fifth year of French and second year as a Jumpstarter.

“Jumpstarters has impacted me because it allows me to build up leadership skills while getting to know students who need a familiar face,” Dewaele said.

Jumpstarters also arrange after-school activities like bowling, picnics and pizza parties to bond with fellow students.

For students coming from out-of-state or just beginning ninth grade, Jupiter High can be especially intimidating with a student body of over 3,000.

“New students from up north usually have much smaller schools, and Jupiter can be overwhelming,” junior Ryan Houck said.

Houck is also finishing his fifth year of French and second year as a part of the Jumpstarters.

The slogan for Jumpstarters, “Getting by With a Little Help from My Friends,” is from a popular song by the Beatles. This club is certainly living up to that statement.