Jesuit Summer Bridge is underway, launching its 12th year of making an impact on dozens of middle school boys in an instructive and nurturing environment.
The 5-week JSB program, from June 6 to July 9, is led by Jesuit High School faculty and staff, including JSB principal Jonathan Barlaan '07, and it's 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.
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 electives such as science and art. The electives include 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 also comes with its own designated theme. The first week's theme was Brotherhood, and week 2 was Leadership. In celebration of Leadership, the critical thinking class taught a lesson on the life of St. Ignatius, founder of the Society of Jesus, and what made him a great leader.
JSB starts each day with the "Prayer for Generosity," and each class is assigned a book to read during their reading periods and 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. JSB concludes with a graduation ceremony on July 9.
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 – many choose activities like football, dodgeball, kickball, or strategic board games. This summer, JSB will also include a field trip to Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park.
Serving alongside Barlaan, who is working in the program for the eighth summer, are: 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). Also, Jesuit alumni Frankie Machado '21, who is a student at Notre Dame, and Edward Morrison '21, a student at Xavier University, are serving as graduate counselors.
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, Andrew Fredericks '23, Andre Gilbert '23, Gilbert Morgan '23, Carmine Sebastiano '23, Tristan Stavish '24, Ashton Tran '24, and Jack Uteg '23.
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.