Jesuit Summer Bridge (JSB) is underway, launching its 11th year of making an impact on dozens of local middle school boys in an instructive and nurturing environment.
The 5-week program (June 7 to July 9) is led by Jesuit High School faculty and staff, including JSB principal Audrey Merck, and it is packed with learning, activities, and fun. This year, JSB registered 50 boys from 24 Hillsborough County public schools, charter schools, and private schools, to experience the comprehensive summer program.
Each morning includes focused academic instruction in three areas – math, critical thinking, and language arts – plus a half-hour daily reading period, mixed with an array of specialty sessions such as robotics, art, and computer science.
Every week of JSB features a different theme: Magis, Brotherhood, Men for Others, Faith, and Gratitude.
"We spend a little time at the start of the day talking about the theme," Merck said. "The counselors will share stories, and the themes become rooted as the week goes along."
In addition to Merck, who is a Jesuit theology teacher in her second year operating JSB, Jesuit admissions director Steve Matesich '91 is the JSB coordinator, Fr. Angel Rivera-Fals, S.J. is the chaplain, Jesuit alumnus Jake Pedrero '12 is the language arts teacher, Jesuit social studies teacher Matt Kaiser is the critical thinking teacher, Jesuit science teacher Jonathan Barlaan '07 is the JSB math teacher, and Jesuit alumnus Edward Morrison '21 is the graduate counselor.
Several Jesuit students and young alumni serve as JSB counselors, including some who themselves are Jesuit Summer Bridge alums. The counselors this summer are: Eddie Benito '23, Ajani Edwards '22, Andre Gilbert '23, Eliaz Lopez '22, Cristian Rojas '22, and Dominic Rozance '22.
While the middle school students are boosting their academic foundation at JSB, they also are making friends and developing leadership skills. Each day concludes with an elective activity – many choose sports and activities such as soccer, dodgeball, and touch football – and the program also includes field trips. On Monday, JSB took a field trip MOSI, exploring the unique and fun educational activities and taking part in a forensics crime solving project.
"We're off to a great start,'' Merck said. "The students are really engaged and you can see their social and academic development. We are excited to help more students to return to their respective middle schools this fall better prepared as students and as leaders among their peers."
JSB is offered at a steeply discounted cost to the participants due to the generosity of benefactors, notably Nancy and Mike Petters '77. The Petters' have demonstrated a leadership commitment to JSB and to providing unique opportunities for local youths to experience a Jesuit education. Other benefactors include the Tiger Lilies, the club comprised of mothers of Jesuit alumni, who every year host special events for the JSB students. The students are tested at the beginning and end of the program, demonstrating their improvement every summer. JSB concludes with a graduation ceremony on July 9.
Please view a photo slideshow below from the first two weeks of Jesuit Summer Bridge 2021: