TAMPA - A burgeoning Jesuit High School summer program has helped 40 middle school boys have the opportunity to experience intensive curriculum and traditional summer camp fun.
In its third year, Summer Bridge is a five-week, comprehensive program offered at a deeply discounted rate to youngsters who might not otherwise be able to attend. It's designed for local boys entering grades 6 to 8 who are conscientious students at or above grade level. Most come from Hillsborough County public schools.
From 8 a.m. to noon daily, Summer Bridge, led by Jesuit algebra teacher Paula Collazo, focused on four disciplines: mathematics, grammar, reading and critical thinking. The staff included certified teachers, and Jesuit alums and students.
"We really focus on the basics," said Collazo, who contacted middle school principals, guidance counselors and gifted teachers to recruit Summer Bridge students. "We help make them strong in the basics, and then they can move up. We test them the first day, and we test them the last day to check their improvement."
Each student also chose an elective. Most selected a physical education-type session. And there were field trips and specialty sessions, which included cooking, art, music, robotics or videography.
"We try to get the kids to step out of their comfort zone," Collazo said.
Jesuit High School developed its model for Summer Bridge from other Jesuit schools offering similar programs. Of the 40 boys who participated this summer, roughly half were repeat attendees.