Thirty-six incoming freshmen were celebrated for investing in their futures after compleeting a six-week Summer Bridge program designed to help them launch a successful start to their high school experience.
Santa Fe High School hosted a July 19 ceremony for students, their families and friends, recognizing their commitment to their education and officially welcoming them to high school. The event was attended by Whittier Union Board Vice President Russell Castañeda-Calleros, Board Clerk Jeff Baird, Board Member Tim Schneider, and Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Monica Oviedo.
Part of the Santa Fe curriculum since 1995, the Summer Bridge program is open to all incoming students, but is attended primarily by students from Lake Center, Lakeside and Los Nietos middle schools who may have experienced academic challenges in eighth grade. It is designed to instill confidence and provide students with helpful study skills.
“The Bridge program gave me a preview of high school life,” said Santa Fe freshman Matthew Kennedy, who attended Lakeside Middle School. “It was really helpful. I realize now that I have to get serious with my studies.”
Students were able to brush up on their study skills and received instruction in time management.
Guest speakers including Santa Fe Principal Craig Campbell and School Resource Officer Steve Garcia, who spoke to the students about how to adjust to a larger school setting and how to best use available resources.
They also learned the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. On the final day of class, Bridge students met Santa Fe’s Associated Student Body representatives, who encouraged them to participate in extracurricular activities.
“The goal of the class is to convince our students that they can be successful in high school,” Bridge Program coordinator and Santa Fe athletic director Steve Hendry said. “This group is one of the smartest groups I’ve ever taught. This is their first success in high school. They are off to a great start.”
Hendry has been involved with Bridge since its inception, originally thinking Bridge would cover remedial subjects. Instead, Hendry realized immediately that he was working with students who simply lacked confidence.
“It really comes down to effective communication,” Hendry said. “These are smart kids who are only now beginning to realize the value of an education. They come to Santa Fe, their slate is clean. They are receiving a fresh start and are very excited about it.”
More than 2,000 students have participated in Bridge. Upon completion, the new freshmen are placed in a guided study elective course where they are paired with peer mentors. The combination of support has helped more than two-thirds of Bridge students to graduate from high school within four years.
“The transition from middle to high school can be daunting for students and Bridge prepares them for success by focusing on improving their work ethic, resiliency and attitude,” Campbell said. “Thank you to Steve Hendry for his hard work and dedication on behalf of our kids, and to Whittier Union for making this program possible.”