Jaguar LEAP helps students acclimate to high school

West Jefferson Hills School District  |  Posted on

75 Thomas Jefferson High School students served as Jaguar LEAP leaders

The Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High School Class of 2026 was in its new building recently for the highly successful Jaguar LEAP, organized and executed by their fellow students. LEAP stands for Learn, Empower, Achieve, Persevere.

The TJ freshmen orientation included fun team-building activities, small group information sessions, a club and activities fair, remarks by West Jefferson Hills Superintendent Dr. Janet Sardon and the TJ principals, breakfast and lunch, a Q&A session, touring the high school and the students locating where their classes are being held. The team-building activities included two obstacle courses, bumper balls and relays, provided by the National Guard.

Approximately 75 TJ students from grades 10-12 were involved in the planning and execution of Jaguar LEAP. A meeting was held at the end of school last year to begin the planning and the LEAP leaders met every two weeks throughout the summer.

Senior Drew Schliebner originated the idea for a freshman orientation two years ago, and the first one was held in August 2021.

“I came up with the idea for Jaguar LEAP during health class my sophomore year,” Schliebner said. “The administration is open to new ideas, which is great. It felt much more organized and we were better prepared this year; we had 30 students last year who helped. We tried to make it more of a student-to-student feel; make it more engaging this year. We wanted to show the students that high school is what you make of it and to take initiative.”

“It went really well,” stated senior Kendall Pielin after Jaguar LEAP. “The (student) leaders did a great job and started to build relationships with the freshmen. We asked last year’s freshmen for feedback and from that created the information sessions.”

The small group sessions led by students included: balance/study habits, cultural awareness, Personal Learning Time (PLT), schedules, school spirit, theater and volunteering.

The freshmen and LEAP leaders were assigned to one of 17 mentor groups. The ninth grade students will meet with their mentor groups for PLT during the first week of classes and the LEAP program will be extended with mentor group check-ins throughout the year.