Jesuit Summer Bridge had it all in 2018.
The dynamic, comprehensive 5-week program for middle school boys was packed with learning, fellowship, leadership, and fun. It featured intensive instruction in core subjects, great field trips (including Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Pin Chasers bowling) and renowned, impactful speakers such as Brian Greenfield and Troy Smith.
Most of all, Jesuit Summer Bridge, which wrapped up its 8th year on Friday (July 13), helped more than 40 local boys from modest socio-economic backgrounds become better. They will return to their 20 Hillsborough County middle schools this fall prepared to be excellent all-around student leaders.
The opening words of the Prayer for Generosity, "Lord, teach me ... " was the theme of Jesuit Summer Bridge this year, and JSB principal Paula Collazo and fellow Jesuit High School teachers Jonathan Barlaan '07 and Evan Jenkins, along with alumnus Jake Pedrero '12, a teacher at Plant High, taught them well, imparting daily lessons in math, critical thinking, reading, grammar, and language arts.
The middle school students are tested in these subjects on the first day and the second-to-last day, to see the tangible results of the instruction.
After the academic portion of each day, the JSB students participated in an array of specialty sessions such as robotics, art, science/math labs, cooking, and recycling, Bricks4Kidz, and more. Many of the sessions, such as robotics and art, are assisted by Jesuit students who are accomplished in those areas, as well as Jesuit teachers such as art department head Kevin Ball '03 and engineering program leader Lauren Hescheles.
They closed each day with sports and activities such as flag football, soccer, dodgeball, and ping-pong. And they closed the program for this summer on Friday with awards and a BBQ lunch in the Student Commons.
The instructive and nurturing environment is the hallmark of Jesuit Summer Bridge. In addition to the Jesuit teachers and alumni who lead the program – which also includes Jesuit admissions director Steve Matesich '91 (the JSB coordinator) and Fr. Francis Brou, S.J. (chaplain) – a group of rising seniors at Jesuit assist as counselors.
The counselors this summer were: Luca Bruno '19, Christopher Chang '19, Miguel Coste '19, Joseph Gonzalez '19, Cameron Manck '19, William McGill '19, Thierry Moliere '18, and Jeremiah Nichols '19.
"We had a great five weeks, truly amazing," Collazo said. "I think back to the first day, and I can see so many ways in which these boys have developed, individually and collectively. Every day was filled with experiences and so much has been accomplished, yet it seems to go by so fast."
Jesuit Summer Bridge is offered at a steeply discounted cost to the participants and is supported in part by the Tiger Lilies, the club comprised of mothers of Jesuit alumni.
"We always say we want them to return to their middle schools better prepared as students and as leaders among their peers, and I think we've done that," Collazo said. "They formed more of their academic foundation for high school, and further developed the whole person within every student."
View a photo slideshow below from the last three weeks of Jesuit Summer Bridge 2018: