Jupiter valedictorian a mentor, runner, with eye on surgical career


MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Jared Kushner, 18

When you’re set to graduate as valedictorian of your senior class, being in clubs such as the honor society is usually expected because those near-perfect grades guarantee you the membership.

But what isn’t expected is when these same teenagers — such as Jared Kushner of Jupiter High School — are part of a club that they don’t have to be in, but one that they do because they truly want to. Kushner is part of Best Buddies, a Jupiter High group whose members mentor disabled students. You don’t have to have great grades to be a member. You just need a big heart.

Kushner has both.

This 18-year-old from Jupiter will graduate with a GPA of 3.9, which guarantees his spot as class valedictorian. While many valedictorians admit that earning this title was something they had eyed even their freshman year, Kushner said that being at the top of his class was never something he pined for.

He was just trying his best, and he happened to snag the prestigious spot.

“I am excited and really proud of myself because I have worked really hard the past four years. But it was never really a goal,” said Kushner, who is the son of Andrew and Stacy Kushner and brother of Ryan, 15, and Lindsey, 14.

Instead, he did what most kids do. He tried his best in his classes and still managed to enjoy time outside of school, like being a part of Best Buddies. The club has changed him for the better, he said, because it’s allowed him to see the good in everyone.

“A lot of people see disabled students as just disabled,” he said.

But not Kushner.

He spends his time bowling, playing games and shooting basketball with his buddies, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

He also spends his free time running, which is a sport that helps him physically and emotionally. Kushner has spent the past four years on the cross-country team and the past two years on the track team. Running, he said, is relaxing for him, and it helps him get rid of stress. The sport has also helped him gain some lifelong friends that he’s sure to miss when he goes to the University of Florida in the fall. He plans to major in applied physiology and kinesiology so he can study exercise science and become an orthopedic surgeon.

“Somehow I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to be a doctor and, as I got older, I figured out what specialty to go into,” he said.

But before he heads to Gainesville in August, Kushner will spend the summer working as a camp counselor for Camp Coleman, a Jewish summer camp in Georgia for third-graders to high school sophomores. He’s spent the past five summers there, and this will be his first as a counselor.

As Kushner looks back on his high school years, he said that he will miss his cross-country and track team moments the most because of all of the special friendships he made. And he had some advice for the younger teens who hope to graduate as valedictorian one day.

“Work your hardest in everything and challenge yourself. That’s probably how I’ve gotten here,” he said. “And don’t be afraid to ask for help.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Gardens police on lookout for stolen dog
Gardens police on lookout for stolen dog

Police are investigating a possible dognapping which took place Saturday at a Petco in Palm Beach Gardens. According to Palm Beach Gardens police, the owner of an 11-year-old Maltese mix named “Teddy” dropped him off for grooming services at the Petco on Legacy Avenue. At approximately 7:53 p.m., a white female with black hair between 40...
Trump in Palm Beach: President praises, poses with PBSO officers before leaving PBIA
Trump in Palm Beach: President praises, poses with PBSO officers before leaving PBIA

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: President Trump posed with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office officers on the tarmac at Palm Beach International Airport this afternoon before leaving on Air Force One. Later, while en route to Washington, he tweeted a photo and praised the “incredible”officers who “keep us safe and are very cool about...
Washington state man, 73, stuck in car for 12 hours after crash
Washington state man, 73, stuck in car for 12 hours after crash

Washington State troopers and firefighters rescued a 73-year-old man who spent about 12 hours stuck in his car after driving off the road near Tiger Mountain, police said Saturday. Eastside Fire officials said the man was in the car overnight, and that when crews arrived, he appeared to be OK. However, he was taken to the hospital for an evaluation...
One-armed Gardens golfer, 7, to be on Steve Harvey’s ‘Little Big Shots’ tonight
One-armed Gardens golfer, 7, to be on Steve Harvey’s ‘Little Big Shots’ tonight

Tommy Morrissey, a 7-year-old golf prodigy born with one arm, is no stranger to the spotlight. He appeared on “The Ellen Show” when he was 3 years old. He traveled to Indonesia at age 4 to inspire other children with physical differences. He challenged PGA pros at the Honda Classic last year to raise money for his UnLIMBited Foundation...
Who is Travis Reinking, the person of interest in the Waffle House shooting?
Who is Travis Reinking, the person of interest in the Waffle House shooting?

Travis Reinking is a 29-year-old man police are seeking in Sunday morning’s shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee. Police issued a murder warrant for Reinking late Sunday morning. Little information has been released by authorities about Reinking, who is from Morton, Illinois.  Police said Reinking sat in his truck in the Waffle...
More Stories