The biggest Jesuit Summer Bridge (JSB) ever is underway, launching its 9th year of making a major impact on dozens of local middle school boys in an instructive and nurturing environment.
The 5-week program (June 10 to July 12) is led by Jesuit High School faculty and staff, including JSB principal Paula Collazo, and it is packed with learning, activities, and fun. This year, JSB registered a record 60 boys from 32 schools, mostly Hillsborough County public schools, to experience the comprehensive summer program.
Each morning includes focused academic instruction in three areas – math, critical thinking, and language arts (grammar/reading) – mixed with an array of specialty sessions such as robotics, art, science/math labs, cooking, and recycling, plus guest speakers and more.
Last week the specialty session was robotics. Jesuit engineering teacher Lauren Hescheles and several members of Jesuit's award-winning Stealth Tigers robotics worked daily with the students. This week’s specialty session brought students into the art studio with Fine Arts department head Kevin Ball ’03, where they are learning about character creation and development.
The JSB theme this year is Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” 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 such as soccer and touch football – and the program also includes two field trips. Last Friday, they spent the day at Replay Museum, and they will take a trip to MOSI next week.
In addition to Collazo, who is a Jesuit math teacher, Jesuit admissions director Steve Matesich '91 is the JSB coordinator, Fr. Francis Brou, S.J. is the chaplain, Jesuit alumnus Jake Pedrero '12 is the language arts teacher, Cameron Ruff '13 is the critical thinking teacher, and Jesuit science and math teacher Eric Price is the JSB math teacher. Other Jesuit teachers such as Hescheles and Ball assist with electives.
Several Jesuit students and young alumni serve as JSB counselors, including some who also are Jesuit Summer Bridge alums. The counselors this summer are Zach Board ’20, Oscar Lopez ’20, Anthony Maceovsky ’20, Daniel Marrero ’20, Alex Medina ’20, Zion Jacobs ‘21, and Edward Morrison ‘21.
In addition to being the largest JSB, for the first time this summer JSB classes have been shared between 7th and 8th graders. With the great success so far, the program is poised to expand even further in the coming years.
"This year’s class is the largest we've had, and seeing its success makes us want to continue to extend the reach,'' Collazo said. "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."
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. The students are tested at the beginning and end of the program, demonstrating their improvement every summer.
Please view a photo slideshow below from the first week of Jesuit Summer Bridge 2019: