July 2011 Archives
One of the most memorable moments of my experience as a Bridge student was definitely my first day. I remember that I was nervous and excited because I didn't know what to expect. So many questions ran through my head like would the teachers be nice, how would the environment be like, and would I like my classes? When I arrived at Menlo I realized that all the worries I had were silly because the Bridge TAs and staff that came to greet us were really nice and fun. They made every moment as fun as possible and kicked the day off with an orientation on the grass field. We played all sorts of trust games that helped us bond with the TAs as well as with the other students. We finished the day with a BBQ and more field games. For me, the first day really tells you what the summer will be like and I found the first day to be awesome and I knew that the summer would be fantastic.
Emotions have been stirring up in anticipation of the upcoming graduation. The Staff has been finalizing the details for next week while students are still engaging in activities outside and inside the classroom. Students have become more aware of the opportunities provided by the Bridge program and have grown thirsty for the sweet taste of change - change that can only be brought on by their own individual efforts and desire to prosper. Much of their desire to change has developed from having the Teacher Assistants as positive role models.
By Grainger Marburg, Executive DirectorWhen I joined Peninsula Bridge in 2005, I had little more than a slim idea of what I was getting myself into and how much the organization would change me. I wanted to change the lives of middle school students from under-resourced schools and communities. I wasn't interested in how much I would change. It wasn't about me. Now, a little over six years later, I am a changed man. What I was hoping I could do for our students has happened to me. It's been a good journey. The organization supports over 70% more students than we did in 2005. We have grown to seven program sites from four, and have plans to increase to ten sites in the next two years. We have a strong brand - something that truly reflects who we are and what we do. Most importantly, though, is the legacy we are creating for our students and their families. Over 5,000 students have enrolled in Bridge since our first summer program in 1990, and each year we learn more about the adventures and successes of our alumni and the difference we have made in their lives. It's an amazing testament to the work of Peninsula Bridge.
Peninsula Bridge Board Member
Wang is one of our newest Board members. She and her husband Joe just
celebrated their 30-year anniversary! They have 3 children: Justin a
sophomore at Menlo School, and twins Kerry (daughter) and Alex (son) who
graduated from college in 2010 and are both currently working as
engineers here in Silicon Valley. Jamie's non-profit focus is on
education and under-served youth. She was one of the first members of Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) when it began in 1998. In addition to Bridge's board, Jamie is also on the Board of Downtown College Prep and Kids in Common. We are very excited to have Jamie on our team!
Alumni Updates - High School Class of 2011
This year's high
school class of 2011 included nearly 80 Peninsula Bridge alumni who
completed our program during the summer of 2006. We wish all of these graduates the best of luck as they move on to new challenges! Here are a few alumni updates:
Danny Mendoza Diana Carbajal
Danny Mendoza will attend Santa Clara University. Diana Cabajal, currently working as a Bridge TA, will be attending U.C. Davis.
By Beau Nichols, St. Matthew's TA
Every kid here looks up to every one of his or her TAs. Whether we're playing a silly game at 8:00 am, disussing the philosophical weight of a novel, illustrating our own short-story creations, or running around capturing flags under the hot afternoon sun- they look at us with open eyes and open hearts. I expected this to some degree--that's what I thought was so special about the TA position. However, I don't think I could say that I expected to be looking up to these kids in the same way they look up to us. They participate in every activity with a genuine excitement that inspires me to stretch to new levels of enthusiasm.
Supporting the Bridge MissionThe Peninsula Bridge Program continues to benefit from creative
Whole Foods - for 2 months patrons who brought their own bags to Whole Foods could choose to donate their 5 cents credit to charity. We received over $500 through this program.
Genentech, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, DPR Construction, NPR - California Report, and Google hosted our students for Career Day. Our students got an inside view of each company and learned about jobs which may spark interest in a future career.
Conceptus - once again the Conceptus Giving Board helped us collect supplies for our summer program. We received over $1,000 worth of supplies.
DPR Construction - DPR employees were back again this year teaching bridge building to our students. What a fun way to see the connection between math and engineering!
This week we started the process of making key chains! The kids were given a 10 Dollar loan (fake money) and they purchased an assortment of neon, sparkly, and metallic beads. The purpose of purchasing these beads is to sell them for real money in order to pay back their loans and teach them about saving and profiting. However, more importantly, it serves as a way to teach them about teamwork and how to make business decisions since each team chooses an organization to donate a portion of their proceeds.
There has been considerable build up
for Thursday night since it will be the first major event for this program this
year. Some of the preparations in the office have included making newsletters
to inform the students' parents of the upcoming events, organizing groups to
cycle through classrooms, and synchronizing all staff members. Future events
include the final assessment test, Field Day, a Mystery Field Trip, and
This summer, I have found that the amount of care and thought my students put into each task provides a great example for the rest of us. It is a cyclical impetus for the TAs, teachers and other students. The energy we draw from each other is so amazing.
It's hard to believe that three weeks of Peninsula Bridge have already gone by. As a returning TA, I've had a ton of fun reuniting with past students, as well as meeting all of the new students. These three weeks have been a whirlwind of class chants (Stanford vs. Cal), advisory dances, University Day, Back-to-Bridge Night, bridge building with DPR, and Career Day. The event I'd like to focus on for this blog entry is the bridge building with DPR Construction, a tradition that all of the eighth graders participated in on Wednesday and Thursday. Armed with just Popsicle sticks and hot-glue guns, the eighth graders divided into groups and set off on building the best bridges they could. The challenge was to build a bridge that could withstand forty pounds!
This week the girls had fun on field trips and enjoyed other fun activities! We started off the week with our field trip to the Tech Museum. This was a special field trip because it was a joint trip between the Castilleja and Saint Joseph's Bridge sites. It was an absolute blast! At the tech the girls participated in fun engineering activities, explored the museum, and watched Born to be Wild in the IMAX. It was an amazing day and by the time we got home the girls were tired and ready to go home.
The week got more exciting with the DPR engineering bridge building activities. For two days the girls were challenged to construct bridges out of popsicle sticks and glue. After the bridges were built we tested them with water weights to see which bridges were successful and which needed more help. Amazingly the majority of the girls' bridges survived!
We had some strange weather here during this second week. It was completely cloudy on Tuesday and just after snack time some of the TAs and I pushed all the tables inside. Just before lunchtime it started to pour! Of course, the students did not see the rain as hindering their playtime but as something else to play with. For most of the students however, we turned on a movie at lunch and they all gathered around at the rare event.
My favorite lunchtime activity by far is sitting with my family group: talking, laughing, joking and of course eating. It is so wonderful to hear them talk so excitedly about their classes, to see them run up to me with a question, a secret, or just a 'hello.' It was so hard to get them to talk the first few days because they were quiet and needed some time to adjust. Although it is only the second week, they are already bursting with conversation and enthusiasm about their favorite classes.
As I write this blog entry, I'm sitting in the bleachers of the Crystal Springs gym, trying in vain to focus over the deafening roar of the seventh and eighth graders; they're playing a heated game of Bridge Ball (our version of dodgeball), and class spirit is running high. Indeed, this past week has witnessed a remarkable increase in class enthusiasm. They cheer wildly during rock, paper, scissors tournaments. They chant during capture the flag. They even compete during the bizarre game known as twist-turn-twizzle. In short, both the seventh and eighth graders have been brimming with passion and a friendly competitive spirit. The energy is contagious, and as I write this, I'm itching to get into the game to help my class triumph!
It has been said that change is natural, making it the only certainty. That certainly held true for the second week of Bridge at Woodside Priory. The weather surprised us all, as the sunshine that surpassed 90 degrees became rain showers similar to those typical during March. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the students flourished as the group's unity expanded and solidified.
After completing their first week, the students
showed greater harmony not only among themselves, but also with the teachers and
assistants. Their bond is being bolted together by the lessons learned in their
classrooms. Mr. Nelson's "lemon drop" exercise serves as an excellent example.
In this activity students were given a lemon to carefully examine. They then
had to identify their lemon when it was combined with the rest of the students'
lemon. After being tested and succeeding
at identifying their respective lemon, they were then instructed to peel it and
identify it once more. The lesson was that although lemons appear different on
the outside, the insides are fairly similar. The recognition of each other's
similarities has been embedded within the minds of the students allowing them
be enthused about the time spent together.
The first week at Peninsula Bridge I did not know what to expect. I do not have any younger siblings since I am the youngest in my family. My idea of dealing with younger kids has been shaped by babysitting my 6-year-old nephew and my niece who just turned 1. All I had left to offer as a student myself was to incorporate that and be able to meet their needs as a TA. This has worked out well and the students have been respectful whenever I need their attention, but also know that I can play with them and have fun. They have grown as individuals in and out of the classroom and have helped me grow as well. For this reason, I've realized that this summer my goal is to have the kids acknowledge that they too can be role models themselves because throughout the week that is the way I see them- as my role models.