By: Mia Santiago, 285
Although the application window has ended to apply for the Bridge Program, it’s still on the mind of many Central freshmen students. The Bridge Program was an excellent opportunity for incoming ninth graders to familiarize themselves with the layout of the school and with the classmates they would soon be working with during the school year.
Directly from Central’s website, “The Bridge Program at Central High School seeks to support incoming ninth-grade Central students by building community, mentorship, fostering relationships, and developing academic and leadership skills.” This one-week program in August 2022 extends throughout the school year during an advisory and mentorship program. And so, the freshman students who participated in the Bridge Program will have the opportunity to receive support from others.
I had the opportunity to meet with Ms. Date, a co-coordinator of the program, and learn more about the Bridge Program. Did you know that the bridge program was developed out of the Black student demands? After the murder of George Floyd, there were a number of student activists here at Central that came together, who felt frustrated about anti-Black (and anti-Latinx) policies that were taking place at Central. The faculty joined and signed onto this. One of the points of the demands was the creation of a bridge program and mentorship program. This Bridge Program would support students and offer them mentorship during school.
There are two different Bridge Programs. The School District of Philadelphia’s Bridge Program is in addition to Central’s Bridge Program. The Bridge Program has four advisories of Bridge students and two advisories of big siblings, who are returning Bridge students. Ms. Date was invited by Mr. Hung to join the Bridge Program in the fall of 2020. She joined to help out with the big siblings but now supports the entire program as co-coordinator. She believes the program is fascinating and wonderful.
“It was fun. I liked that we got to meet new people. It made the first day less scary because I knew people,” Adamaris Lopez (285). The Bridge Program decreased the stress and scariness of the first day. “Bridge helped me make tons of friends before school started. They prepared us for Central. It helped me become more comfortable with the building before school started,” said Liliana Colon (285). Liliana also mentioned that the big sibling program is great. The comfort of having a mentor is supportive. Many of the 285 class believe the Bridge Program provided beneficial information and set them up for success!
The Bridge Program was beneficial for ninth graders and gave the teachers who participated in the Bridge program the chance to get to meet many of their future students. Ms. Bergeron states, “This was my first year participating in the program, but, as a teacher, it allowed me to meet students before school started and find out what was important to the incoming freshman.” Ms. Bergeron’s comments on the Bridge Program let us know that this program was a positive experience.
The Bridge Program provided an advantage to the freshmen who participated in the program. This opportunity the school provided to freshmen will be remembered through the support provided.