Jesuit Summer Bridge (JSB) completed its 12th year on Friday (July 8), wrapping up a dozen years of making an impact on middle school boys in an instructive and nurturing environment at Jesuit High School.
A graduation ceremony in the Tiger Palace capped off the 5-week JSB program, which was led as always by Jesuit High School faculty and staff, including JSB principal Jonathan Barlaan '07. Packed with learning, activities, and fun, this year the program registered more than 40 boys from 26 Hillsborough County public schools, charter schools, and private schools, to experience the comprehensive summer program for rising 7th and 8th graders.
With dozens of family members in attendance Friday, Barlaan led the graduation ceremony. The keynote speaker was Cameron Ruff '13, who is a 4th grade teacher at Trinity School for Children, a former teacher at JSB, an assistant football coach at Jesuit, and former All-Conference football player at the University of South Florida. Ruff encouraged the graduates to take what they had learned at JSB back with them to their respective middle schools.
All of the participants received graduation certificates, and numerous awards were presented. Among the awards were:
- Excellence in Critical Thinking: Jaevon Wade, Nathaniel Hernandez, Brody Martinez-Robinson
- Excellence in Mathematics: Remington Rooth, Aiden Felix, Vincent Garcia
- Excellence in English Language Arts: Aiden Hobbs, Luis Valentin, Martinez-Robinson
- Most Improved Testing Score: Gabriel Cruz, Shelton Gordon, Marvin Mendez
- Highest Testing Score: Logan Cotney, Christian Matejak, Garcia
- Outstanding Counselor: Jack Uteg '23
- Sportsmanship: Omar Anchico
- Men for Others: Elijah Givens, Gordon, Maximillian Morgado
During the previous five weeks, every morning included focused academic instruction in three areas – math, critical thinking, and language arts – plus a half-hour daily reading period. That was followed by an array of elective options such as science and art. The electives included chemistry demonstrations with Barlaan, one of Jesuit's science teachers, and drawing with Kevin Ball '03, Jesuit's art department head.
Each week at JSB had a designated theme – Brotherhood, Leadership, Respect, Humility, and Love – and each day at JSB begins with the "Prayer for Generosity." Classed are assigned a book to read during their reading periods and then discuss during language arts class. The students are tested in each JSB subject area at the beginning and end of the program, demonstrating their improvement every summer.
While JSB provides an opportunity for middle schoolers to continue to boost their academics over the summer, it also allows them to meet new friends from different schools. Each day ends with an elective, activities like football, dodgeball, kickball, or strategic board games. This summer, JSB also included a fantastic field trip to Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park.
Serving alongside Barlaan, who has been involved in JSB for eight summers, were: Jesuit admissions director Steve Matesich '91 (JSB coordinator); Fr. Angel Rivera-Fals, S.J. (chaplain); Jake Pedrero '12 (language arts); Jesuit theology teacher Jennifer Prickel (critical thinking); and Jesuit social studies teacher Kyle Cramer (math).
Jesuit alumni Frankie Machado '21, who is a student at Notre Dame, and Edward Morrison '21, a student at Xavier University, served as graduate counselors. Several Jesuit students served as JSB student counselors, including many who themselves are JSB alums. The counselors this summer were: Eddie Benito '23, Andrew Fredericks '23, Andre Gilbert '23, Gilbert Morgan '23, Carmine Sebastiano '23, Tristan Stavish '24, Ashton Tran '24, and Uteg.
JSB is offered at a steeply discounted cost to the participants, which is made possible by 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.
Please view below a 100+ photo slideshow from Jesuit Summer Bridge 2022!