Menlo School - Week 4

By Ariana A.

On Wednesday, our family and the rest of the Peninsula Bridge Program had the opportunity to visit the Tech Museum in San Jose. Our family had a very fun time as we explored the technological advances that have been made throughout the centuries, and learned about the scientific world. One of my families favorite exhibits was the earthquake simulation, which allowed people to feel the strength of large historic earthquakes. In the picture to the right, my family was building towers with foam blocks to see how they would be affected by the simulation. To no one’s surprise, they were easily knocked down as the ground beneath us began to shake. Another exhibit that the students enjoyed was in the Health and Biotech exhibit. They looked at certain objects through microscopes to figure out what the human eye cannot see. They also learned about human life; a baby and it’s health, the human anatomy, and people around the world living in different conditions. In this picture above, my family is examining a computer chip under a microscope to see every little detail and how it was made. 

My family and I really enjoyed spending the day at the tech museum, and learned a lot about humans and what we are truly capable of doing. We learned that anything is possible and can be achieved with hard work by looking around the different exhibits at the tech museum and realizing what amazing creations humans have made to advance and help lives. We very much appreciate this opportunity that the Menlo Bridge summer program gave to us and will never forget it. 


Castilleja - Week 4

Spirit Week!
By Leena A.

This week was arguably the best week at the Castilleja site because it was Spirit Week! On Monday, students and TAs wore their comfiest pajamas to Bridge and a couple even brought pillows. Tuesday was crazy sock day and Wednesday was crazy hair day. Some of the notable hairdos included a student wearing over 15 bows in hair, and another with a balloon in her hair! Thursday was advisory color day, where all the students in the same advisory wore the same color. And finally on Friday, students will come to Bridge wearing athletic gear and the jerseys of their favorite athletes for Sports Day. Advisories gained points based participation and enthusiasm, but the Spirit Week winners have yet to be crowned.

This week we also were lucky enough to take a field trip to Pizza My Heart in downtown Palo Alto. The girls learned about the history of the company, and got to go to the kitchen and see the behind the scenes of how their favorite pizzas were made. Finally, they got to make and eat their own personal pizzas before walking back to campus. The trip was not only informative but also delicious! 

Another highlight of the week was a visit from Ms. Tom, a college counselor at Castilleja who was once a trained opera singer. Ms. Tom taught the girls about opera, played a CD of her singing opera when she was 19, and even sang “Amazing Grace” for all of us. We were very impressed by her singing, as opera is not something we hear often. 

We introduced a new elective this week, AJ Tutoring. Twice a week a teacher from AJ tutoring came into to give the girls valuable iSEE test prep and tips. In Computer Science, the girls completed Lightbot’s Hour of Code, which they found challenging but exciting. In Math, they began to learn about perimeter and area, and in Language Arts they continued to read The Birchbark House and learned more about the power of storytelling. 

I can’t believe that we only have one week left of Bridge. It’s been so rewarding and fun to watch the girls grow more confident throughout the summer and to see them make friendships that will last all four summers of the Bridge program (and maybe beyond). For me, Bridge 2016 has flown by faster than any other summer, and I hope to make the most of the last few days. And of course, there is always the End of Summer Celebration to plan for and look forward to! 

Woodside Priory - Week 4

With two field trips this week, students definitely had a lot to look forward to! The first field trip was on Wednesday to Levi’s Stadium home of the 49ers in Santa Clara. All 65 students piled onto their buses in the morning, and headed directly to Santa Clara. When we got the stadium, we separated into two groups and started off our day!! The students got a tour of the VIP seats and clubs of the stadiums, got a tour of the visiting team’s locker room, got to go on the field, did a few running activities of the field, a fun hands one team building activity, and got to explore the museum! It was a fun packed day, and the students got a deeper understanding of how STEM works in the football industry. After asking the students what the highlight of their day was, many replied that being on the field and working in the creativity lab to create new football protective gear.

On Friday we had our second field trip, but due to limited space only half of the students were able to join. Students in Blocks B and D had gone to Ideo, a start up, for their field trip earlier in the program, and now students in blocks A and C had the opportunity to go to Google for their fieldtrip. The morning of, the students arrived to campus, and all attended their first period classes and then got on the buses off to Google. At the Google Campus we got several talks from Googlers and they told us their stories and how they ended up at Google and what they do there now. This was extremely inspirational to the students as it really excited them for their future potential. After a long and delicious lunch prefaced with an tour of the new Android Auto, we got to learn about some fun game apps that Google has come out with recently and is going to release soon! Overall the kids enjoyed the field trip and really opened their eyes to new future possibilities!!

Next week is our last week of Bridge, and with a heavy heart we are starting preparations for Bridge Graduation.

Woodside Priory Week 3

By Mirthia P.

In our third week of Peninsula Bridge we are already half way through the summer! Because of the holiday on Monday, we had a shorter week, but that did not stop our program from running smoothly! As we gotten to know the students better and their strengths, we have started the conversation on transitioning to independent high schools. In the next week we will have a special elective hosted by AJ Tutoring on ISEE Test Prep. The ISEE is the exam most students take to apply to independent schools. This test prep elective will give Bridge students a preview of what it will be like preparing to apply to independent schools, and hopefully motivate them to work harder 8th grade year to ensure acceptance. On Wednesday we went around during break to ask students if they were interested in applying to private schools. We then shared some experiences from former Bridge students and their transitions into independent schools. After hearing this short spiel many students had questions and seemed even more interested than before. As Bridge continues we hope to have more informative sessions, leaving them prepared for the process coming this fall

Woodside Priory - Week 2

By Mirthia P.

This week for our blog we decided to focus on the TAs that really help run the entire Bridge program. TAs are an essential part of the program as they help provide more individual student attention in the classrooms and motivate the students to keep learning. Many of our TAs this year are returning, have participated in Bridge as a student, or are very interested and involved in the whole Peninsula Bridge Program. Below are some of the reasons why they have decided to do Bridge this summer:

Armando, Junior:

I decided to do Bridge because of their mission. I am a student of a low-income situation and I feel like I need to help kids who were in my situation to help them do better in life. I love helping kids and people in becoming what they want or doing things in general so what better opportunity to do all this then help at Bridge. I know many of these kids come from East Palo Alto and I feel like I will be giving back to my community if I TA at Bridge.

Claudia, Senior:

This is my second summer volunteering for Bridge. I came back because I was inspired by the students; motivation, energy, and overall positivity. The connections I made with the students and other TA's made a lasting impression on me. 

Elizabeth, Junior:

I went to Bridge for four years, and I remember coming to Bridge each summer wishing that one day, I could be doing what the TAs were doing for us students. I wanted to be able to support and impact others as my TAs did for my classmates and me. They made classes fun and challenged us, and they did it all during their own summer breaks, a time when most were relaxing and hanging out with friends. Knowing this motivated me and made me feel like I really mattered, so I promised myself that I would become a TA when I was in high school and do the same for others. Finally having the opportunity to volunteer at Bridge has been so fulfilling. I feel as though I can give back to these students and hopefully help them as Bridge TAs have done in the past. 

Amanda, College Student:

I’ve always heard great things about working at Bridge and how rewarding it was for many of my friends. I had an opportunity to stay in the Bay Area this summer so I decided to work at Bridge, experience what it is like to teach at summer school and learn from both the kids and my fellow TAs.

TAs like the ones above really motivate the students to work their hardest and have fun at Bridge. The entire program experience would not be complete without them.

Crystal Springs - Week 4

Bridge Spirit!
By Emily C.

The second-to-last week of Bridge just flew by! This week was Spirit Week, meaning a week filled with fun competitions and silly games. Our Spirit Week committee worked super hard to come up with activities, and it was a huge success. From a carnival day to balloon stomp to pie-eating, every student participated in winning points for their advisory. Every day was a dress-up day, meaning that everyone came to school in pajamas on Monday and visitors must have been shocked to see the quirky hats, socks, and inside-out shirts of Wacky Wednesday. My advisory particularly gelled together to win the human wheelbarrow contest, helping us overtake another advisory for third place.

Academically, students are shining. In 8th grade Math, students were perfecting their mathematical graphing skills, while 7th graders were learning how to convert between fractions, decimals, and percentages. Science students spent the week working on labs; one about earthquakes and another that required the kids to go outside, collect materials, and design bird’s nests. In my 8th grade Language Arts class, we’ve made through Act III of Othello! Shakespeare is incredibly difficult, especially for middle schoolers, so I’m impressed with my students’ resolve in how they have tackled the play. We even challenged them to memorize twelve lines of an Othello speech and now everyone in the 8th grade goes around shouting, “O, my soul’s joy!” at their friends.

This Friday, all of Crystal Springs piled in a bus and took a field trip to Aqua Adventure in Fremont. It was an awesome chance to get to know the students outside of the classroom. Several kids (and one TA)* who were slightly apprehensive about heights or drowning took the risk of going on the water slide and discovered how fun it was. I was surprised to find that students who I had not gotten to know very well yet were asking me to come swim with them or join them on the slide. Kids who weren’t friends yet got to know each other, and unlikely bonds were formed.

However, my proudest moment comes from my art elective. I had one student who told me fairly blatantly that he hated art because he didn’t think he was good at it, despite my encouragement and assurances that he didn’t need to be good at art to enjoy the elective. But when tasked with creating an interpretive self-portrait, this student revealed that he had a ton of fantastic ideas and took the assignment really seriously. He worked on it at home, bringing in paper the next day to show his plan for an introspective collage detailing a bunch of important memories from his childhood. I’m so proud of his dedication and effort and he’s already told me that “maybe art isn’t so bad.” I can’t wait to see him and the other students show off their work at graduation next week.

Menlo - Week 3

Personal Reflection
Claire H.

This week, math focused on having the students apply their knowledge to real world situations. The students were set up with a virtual stock trading experience. The students have appreciated the hands on learning experience, and have been more lively and engaged as a result. For instance, during lunch time, I talked to both Tyler and JJ who were both incredibly excited for math that day. They were asking me strategy questions about whether they should buy stocks that are decreasing in value. It was rewarding to see them push one another intellectually to try to think and reason through both the upsides and downsides to doing that. As both students are very engaged in their sports and downtime, it was meaningful to see that their learning had impacted them outside of the classroom. On the other hand, a few students have been unwilling to take risks this week. For instance, the girls in my group have not been investing their money because they are afraid to lose it. However, you cannot make money if you do not spend it in the stock market. When solving equations, I have found that some students have become slightly lazy or scared. They do not seem to want to take any risks. Overall, it has been wonderful to spend time with the students I am assigned to. It allows me to really understand their strengths and weaknesses so I can tailor my explanations to them.

A consistent highlight of mine is spending time with my family group. Every week they become closer and more comfortable with one another. During the first two weeks, I had to initiate every conversation and keep it afloat with questions. However, this week the kids have started to have their own conversations based on their own interests. The Fourth of July was a great conversation topic for the kids. It allowed them to move past Peninsula Bridge to talk about their family and friends. They were genuinely excited to hear about what each other had done over the weekend. Their understanding of one another was exemplified when Abraham was sick. That day, they all had to sign up for their enrichment classes. Jose, Valeria, and Sophia had together ranked the choices from one to eight based on what they knew about his love of soccer, his dislike of dance, his interest in science, etc.

Ultimately, I have had a wonderful experience during these past three weeks. The teachers, students, and fellow TA’s are all such a pleasure to work with. I am genuinely excited for the weeks to come, and am looking forwards to how the students continue to progress.

Castilleja - Week 3

A Busy Week Three!
By Angie W.

Bridge students feeding cows on a field trip to TomKat Ranch,  a learning laboratory for sustainable animal agriculture.

Bridge students feeding cows on a field trip to TomKat Ranch,  a learning laboratory for sustainable animal agriculture.

By the third week of Bridge at Casti, the girls (incoming fifth graders) have gotten to know each other really well and the days are flying! We cannot believe that Bridge is halfway over, and we do not want it to end! 

In math class, the girls were introduced to fractions. Adding and subtracting fractions proved to be challenging for some of the girls, but using grit and determination along with a bit of motivation from the TAs, they confidently mastered how to do these problems. They already feel much more prepared and motivated for their upcoming year of math at school!  

In science class, the girls started learning about computer science. Many of the girls did not know anything about Binary or the idea of human vs. computer previously, so their contagious curiosity filled the classroom. They asked lots of questions and found it very interesting. 

In English, the girls continued reading and analyzing The Birchbark House. They followed Omakaya’s journey and continued to learn more about the Objibwe cultural practices.

In electives, the girls painted birch bark trees, rehearsed their dances to “Happy” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, practiced yoga, made movies, and played sports! I am always impressed with the girls’ courage to take risks and try new things. While not every girl was a dancer, or a soccer player, or an artist, they were so open-minded, and these activities encouraged them to step out of their comfort zone. I have noticed the quieter girls opening up and taking on leadership roles while the girls as class learned what it is like to work as a cohesive unit. 

In the middle of the week, Mrs. McKee, one of Castilleja’s well-loved history teachers, taught the girls the “Jambo Bwana” song. Mrs. McKee always played this song for Castilleja students before they learned about anything related to Africa, but on Wednesday morning, the girls learned the Jambo song from Mrs. McKee herself! The song means “Hello Mister” in Swahili and consists of seven of the most common phrases and greetings in the language. The girls really enjoyed singing this catchy song and were eager to learn more about another culture! 

On Friday, the girls went on a field trip to Pescadero Beach and TomKat Ranch. The girls really enjoyed wading in the waters at the beach and seeing all the animals at the ranch! The girls reflected that the field trip was a great way to end a busy week filled with hard work. 

One of my favorite parts of Bridge is having the opportunity to witness and encourage the hard work, positivity, and curiosity the girls bring to the program every day without fail. Over the last few weeks, I have noticed the growth of the girls’ indomitable spirit and their determined attitude to take on every challenge that comes their way. As a TA, being able to manifest the idea that learning for the sake of learning is both a fun and rewarding experience is very exciting for me.  

I cannot wait for the shared laughs and memories that lie ahead in the last two weeks of Bridge! 

Castilleja - Week 2

By Christie W.

By the second week of Bridge, almost all of the girls have started opening up with each other. As a TA, I can clearly see that they are branching out and forming new friendships with other students that will last with them throughout the rest of their years spent at the Bridge program.  

When talking to the girls during advisory breakfast, many of them reflected on how much they love Bridge and how their favorite part are the electives and the food served on campus.  Many of them especially love the dance, art, and science classes.  One fun activity that the girls reflected on was practicing yoga to calm their minds.  However they found some of the poses challenging.  When I asked them about any challenges they faced this week, one girl said that math was a challenge for her, but she was able to overcome her difficulties by putting effort into her work, and persevering through the difficult problems.    

This week I had the opportunity to help out with the science class on their trip to the local Gamble Garden.  There at the garden, the girls were broken up into four different groups and were given the task to find different flowers throughout the garden.  During this activity I could clearly see that they were trying to make connections to what they had learned in their science classes, along with staying focused.  Their ability to stay focused on the task at hand, along with having fun at the same time is a great skill that the students possess which will help them in the future.  As I grow up, I find that I am not as able to balance the two skills of having fun and staying focused at the same time.  You must choose one or the other; however at their age they can choose both. The girls inspired me to have a little bit of fun and stay focused at the same time when working on future tasks.  While at the garden some of the girls wanted to draw the plants and flowers they saw.  As a lead art TA, I was excited that not only were they focused on the science aspect of the garden, but also the artistic details that they saw amongst the garden as well.  I was quite pleased that the girls were able to blend together this knowledge from two different classes, and connect them to the activity that they were doing.

I am excited to see the Bridge girls continue learning and growing throughout the rest of the summer.  I know that the rest of the program will be amazing just like the first two weeks!

Crystal Springs - Week 3

By Hannah M.

Throughout the past couple days, students and TAs alike expressed their shock as they realized Bridge is over halfway done. The summer feels like it’s flying by thanks to so many enjoyable activities, engaging classes, and new friendships. Whether students are playing “Hedwig's Theme” on the piano, discussing football players in the cafeteria, or doing integer operations in math class, they’re making long lasting memories.

This week was eventful in terms of what went on in the classroom! In 8th grade Math, students discovered that PEMDAS is more than a random collection of letters. The 8th graders spent the week working with variables, word problems, and exponents. In Science, students began participating in hands-on labs after they completed the two-week unit on coding and computer science. Meanwhile, 7th graders in Language Arts wrote articles about Malala Yousafzai’s leadership skills and continued to discuss Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth. Students felt bittersweet when electives ended on Tuesday, as they were excited to switch to a new elective but sad to leave an old one behind. Cooking, Lego Robotics, and Singing are just a few of the new offerings this time around.

The theme of courage is really important to what goes on here at the Crystal Springs Bridge site. Students are still working diligently on their Brave Projects. Some examples of awesome projects include writing short stories, learning to skateboard, and training a service dog. In advisory on Wednesday, students laughed and took risks during “The Singing Bee,” a competition in which students scored points by singing the correct words to the chorus from a popular song. It was so entertaining to watch seven students sing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and “Sorry” by Justin Bieber in perfect unison. Students are taking risks and growing more and more confident every day!

Next week is the always exciting Spirit Week. The week will be full of fun games and crazy competitions including pie eating, cupcake decorating, and dodge ball. Every day will have a dress up theme. Monday is Pajama Day, Tuesday is Crazy Hat/Hair Day, Wednesday is Wacky Day, and Thursday is Advisory Color Day. On Friday, everyone will be wearing swimsuits under their clothes because of the water park field trip! It’s apparent that a memorable and awesome week lies ahead.

Crystal Springs - Week 2

Taking Risks
By Emily C. 

7th grade Language Arts students discuss Boys Without Names in the hallway.

7th grade Language Arts students discuss Boys Without Names in the hallway.

At the end of our second week of Bridge, the kids have shown so much improvement in both academic and social settings. Frankly, it has been awesome to see kids pushing themselves to do well in their classes as well as try new things during their free time.

In 8th grade Language Arts, students are still persevering through Othello, having just finished Act One. While Shakespeare is undoubtedly difficult, my students are becoming more comfortable with taking risks in their analyses, and it is so great to see the kids get excited when they have made their way through a tough passage. I have also heard from the 7th grade Language Arts TAs that the students in their class have begun to come out of their shells and speak up more in discussions, a big step up from Week One. In 8th grade Math, the kids are also doing well, grasping the concepts of functions fairly quickly using blocks to represent X and Y.

I have asked a lot of the students what their favorite part of the day is, and almost everyone has answered with their elective (a few kids enjoy Science class better, which is understandable). We introduced some of the students to claymation in Art, and it was a huge hit, so when it came time for the kids to start their final projects of interpretive self-portraits, three students decided to make claymation self-portraits. It was risky, but so far, those projects look really cool and incredibly creative.

Outside of the classroom, I was not prepared for the shifts in social structure that occurred this week. Throughout all of Week One, the kids stayed in well-defined friend groups for every snack and lunch period, divided strictly by grade level and gender. This week, however, the students showed me that they were more than willing to socialize with people that they did not know very well or have much in common with, revealing that the Bridge kids are becoming more comfortable with being outside of their comfort zones. Volleyball has emerged as the new co-ed, all-inclusive sport, and you are bound to see a large circle of all kinds of students playing it during every break. Even soccer, which used to be pretty segregated by gender, has shifted to be more inclusive as some of the 8th grade girls asked to join in this week. I am very proud of their courage to integrate themselves without any prompting from the TAs. I hope to see this kind of risk-taking continue in the rest of the program.

Menlo - Week 2

By Jenni S.

It has been another successful week in Bridge and I slowly feel it going by a lot faster. It’s not easy being someone they look up to but every day the students teach me new things about myself that I didn’t know. I am always happy with them and it makes Bridge so much more enjoyable for me. I got so much closer to a few students and I’m excited for our bond to keep growing everyday. This week in math I sat with my groups I was assigned to everyday. I was able to answer their questions and help them feel more confident about their math skills by giving them guiding questions to get through. The math TA’s have been good at helping Mr. Lau in anything he needs. Most kids really enjoy the kahoots, which is a fun competition between them. There were also bumps through this week because TA’s weren't always doing the enrichment jobs we were assigned. This was a wake up call and I will make sure this doesn’t happen again. I do think I got a lot better and I’ve been playing four square which is really fun! I’ve been with girls that don't really feel comfortable playing games to the gym, played mafia and also jump rope. I also got even closer with my little family; Jojo and I know we are going to miss them a lot! Lunch is when we sit together, talk about our day, future plans and to get closer. This week on Tuesday I helped lead the lung model, which wasn’t very easy, but we got through it. We had a small lesson with the model and the kids enjoyed it. I also know that my leadership skills are growing for the future, which is a helpful characteristic to have! On Thursday we had another science lab where we taught the differences between a computer and the human brain. I led the Powerpoint with Luis O and it went well, we had very interesting conversations with the students. Most of the girls in our class were interested because they were all adding their own ideas when I made a Venn diagram on the board on the differences between a computer and the human brain. The students will learn more about programming and I’m excited for the future activities we have planned. In conclusion, I’m excited to create more memories and spend my summer with all the wonderful students. 

By Miller G.

Week 2 of the Peninsula Bridge Summer Program has blown by, and I could not be more impressed with the joy and enthusiasm that all of the students exhibit at every turn.  In math class this week, the students learned how to be expert bankers during their study of compound interest.  This built well off of our lessons on converting between decimals, fractions, and percents, as well as the lessons on discounts, tax, and markups.  They are all well on their way to becoming expert business-men and -women!  This week, we also embarked on our very first Embark Lab.  During this lab, the students learned about the numerous, significant differences between computer and human thinking.  We then asked the students to think like computers, playing a couple games that involved giving directions to another student like you would for a computer, requiring explicit, direct instructions.  This led into our study of the difference between position and orientation, which is involved in multiple computer programs such as GPS.  We finished off the lab by teaching the students about binary, the language of computers.  Although there was certainly some confusion, I was highly impressed with the persistence that the students exhibited and how they worked together in groups to understand the concept.  Similarly exciting was Wednesday’s activity, in which the students worked together in groups to build a logo out of Legos based on directions that were anything but clear.  My group surprised me by working together as if they were an actual construction company, asking for input from each student and making sure that each step had been successfully and correctly completed before moving on.  They all exhibited advanced communication and teamwork skills, and I can see many of them overseeing a construction project in the future!  Once all of the learning was over, Enrichment this week was extremely fun and enjoyable this week, with spirited games of dodgeball, knockout, soccer, ping pong, foursquare and many other games resulting in laughter and fun for everyone. This week of Peninsula Bridge has been extremely successful, and the attentiveness and excitement that all of the students bring into their classrooms is unparalleled.  I am looking forward to a great Week 3 and a fantastic rest of the summer!

Sacred Heart - Week 1

Exciting Beginnings!
By Julia B.

Peninsula Bridge at Sacred Heart Preparatory is off to a great start! As a returning TA, I could not wait to meet the kids and get to know their personalities. At the end of the first week, the students are comfortable with navigating between classes and engaging with their teachers and TA. Most students are building up to singing the daily ‘Bridge Song’ at the loudest decibel possible, but the 5th graders are definitely in the lead in this respect.

This is my first year being a TA for a 5th grade section, and I was pleasantly surprised at how eager all the students seemed about the new material. Every day, they start class excited to be with each other and share what they learned from the previous night’s reading. Being a Teacher’s Assistant for English – both 5th and 7th grade – is my favorite part about Bridge. I love interacting with the kids on a personal level, and getting to see the progress they make every day in deeply understanding the texts we work with.

A favorite activity of the week was Thursday’s scavenger hunt. Accompanied by TAs, the students raced in small groups to campus locations like the pool, farm, auditorium, and a mural of our Lady of Guadalupe. At each location, they had to perform certain actions or poses in order to earn the next clue to advance. Here, class 7C tried to include every member in a human pyramid!

I love the energy in and out of the classrooms at Bridge this year. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!

Menlo School - Week 1

First Impressions
By Avi

My name is Avi. I’m a rising 10th grader at Menlo School in Atherton, California. I came to know about Peninsula Bridge through a social justice class I took at Menlo in a freshman rotation program. In that class, I did a presentation about Bridge, and as soon as I began researching, I immediately knew that I had to get involved with the program. Bridge is dedicated to providing academic support to highly-motivated and intelligent, yet underserved students in the area. In many ways, I see myself in the kids I’m teaching! Just like them, I work hard on my school work everyday, and I am committed to my learning and education. However, unlike many of the students I have met in the wellness class that I teach at Bridge, I am blessed to attend a privileged school like Menlo, which, in my opinion, has the resources that any middle or high school student could ever wish for. So, I feel that it is my duty, or “dharma” as they call it in my religion of Hinduism, to serve kids like me, who work hard every day, but don’t have the resources to get the education they are capable of getting. 

Already, I have a great feeling about the program. Even though the kids just met each other, they are already getting to know each other very well; I am constantly seeing strong friendships forming in the classroom, and during breaks and lunches. From my small family group to the classroom environment, it is evident that initially shy students are quickly becoming comfortable with the environment here and are opening up, across the board, to their new friends and to their TAs and master teachers inside and outside of class. 

This week, I was able to help Ms. Leos, our master teacher, teach all 80 kids in the program about their physical wellness. We analyzed the calorie and total fat content in menus of fast food restaurants, and the students differentiated the healthier meals with the unhealthier meals at these restaurants. We also went over “MyPlate”, which was a great reminder for the students to always have balanced meals, with the correct proportions of vegetables, grains, protein, fruits, and dairy. My co-TA, Olivia, and I led a fun and interactive game where we were able to brainstorm examples of nutritious foods in each of these food categories. 

I feel really lucky to be able to teach this class, because what the kids learn in wellness has a direct and incontestable impact on their lives in the present and the future. Even over the course of a few days, it’s been such a pleasure to see students learn, socialize, and grow in the safe and supportive environment of the Menlo School site.


Crystal Springs - Week 1

“Welcome to Bridge!”
by Emily C.

Since it was the first week of Peninsula Bridge and most had only just finished school the week before, one would expect the kids to be nervous, tired, and shy. I was pleasantly surprised, then, to see anxiety give way to excitement and energy in less than a day! Students immediately became invested in their class work, electives, and advisory competitions, and as a first-time TA, I was so excited to see the kids’ engagement in each of their activities.

8th grade Language Arts has been off to a dramatic start with reading and analyzing the first scene of Othello. Walking past our door, you can hear the sounds of students exclaiming characters’ names in Italian accents - “Desdemona!” Is their favorite. The 7th and 8th grade Science class, taught entirely by TAs, is also clearly a success. I have heard so much from the kids about how interesting that class is, learning about how computers and humans think differently. They played a very well-received game yesterday in which one kid was the ‘robot’ and their team had to ‘program’ them to correctly walk around a grid maze.

I’m also impressed by how engaged the students are in their electives. Art has been off to a great start, and we spent one afternoon taking advantage of the beautiful weather to go outside and draw nature. It’s easy to hear the Musical Instrument elective’s piano music through the halls, and kids with cameras in Photography keep popping in and out of classrooms to take snapshots of the other students in action.

However, the most surprising (and fulfilling) part of this week for me has been watching my advisory come together to support each other and get excited during our trivia contest. Our first meeting had not seemed positive - I was worried that the kids did not really like each other and that we would never connect as a group. But the very next day, competitive spirit prevailed, and the whole group had so much fun cheering for each other, putting their heads together, and high-fiving every time we got a question right. Though we lost the contest by two points, I am so proud of the energy and teamwork that my advisory showed me. I cannot wait to see how they continue to grow and connect with one another over the next four weeks.

Woodside Priory - Week 1

Swimming in Elective Options!
by Mirthia P.

This year Priory’s Peninsula Bridge started off with a bang, with focused students who were eager to learn, and a wonderful group of teachers and TAs that ready to share their help. One of the most exciting parts of this year’s Bridge program are the exciting choices of electives students have to choose from. The list of electives includes the following:

·     Basketball
·        Women’s Issues
·      Soccer
·      Volleyball
·      Dance 101
·      Cooking
·      Photography
·      Drama
·      Piano
·      Bottle Rocket Building
·      Music Production
·      Outdoor Education and Gardening
·      Idea Grams and Mind Mapping

These electives consist of the last period of the day and are run by TAs without the help of teachers. During this period TAs are able to share their passion and experience with a certain subject with the student and help them learn something new or partake in an activity they already enjoy. At the beginning of the week students filled out their top 5 electives for the summer and the TA office staff has been working hard to fulfill everyone’s top choices.

One of the best parts of this elective period is that TAs are able to really get to know their students outside of the classroom. While working in the Garden with the students our fellow TA Christian is able to learn about the kid’s interests and hobbies while teaching them how to grow and produce their own vegetables. In Women’s Issues TAs Claudia and Katy are able to relate to the girls on the many issues women face in our society, and have fun while doing it. In the same way that classes like Math and Science are essential for our learning, fun extra curricular classes help students grow and learn more about the world around them.

Castilleja - Week 1

"First Week of Fun!"
by Eva S. 

The girls learning camp rules during Morning Meeting

The girls learning camp rules during Morning Meeting

This week was highly anticipated by TAs and students alike!  We all had so much fun getting to know each other, especially through games and advisory time during breakfast and lunch.  We also participated in a scavenger hunt to get to know the Casti campus, which the girls really enjoyed.  They were most excited about the garden and dance studio.  

Day after day, the students said that the electives were their favorite part of the day (and as a TA, I would say the same thing!).  During science, dance, art, sports, and nutrition/wellness classes, the girls are able to explore new topics in a fun, hands-on way, and the TAs have a leadership role in sharing topics they are passionate about.  As one of the lead TAs for the art elective, I love working with my peers to create engaging curriculum and inspiring the girls to think critically about the art that they see and create.  I am extremely impressed with the girls’ pieces of art, including their neatness, attention to detail, and originality.  One of my favorite parts of this experience is working individually with the girls to ask them about their ideas and their work of art to guide them towards thinking analytically and reaching beyond their comfort zone.  This was very challenging, especially because the students are still shy and reserved during the first week, but I saw the girls really opening up.  

In addition, today we had the pleasure of hearing from Saima Hassan, a Castilleja alumna and founder of Roshni Academy in India, a school that prepares motivated, low-income girls for college.  She challenged us to use courage to overcome fears and obstacles and achieve our dreams.  In advisories, we discussed what we would do if those fears and obstacles disappeared.  Some girls’ answers included becoming a lawyer, going to college, and providing for their families.  All of them mentioned helping others!

I am so proud and grateful to be part of such a life-changing experience (for the girls and TAs!).  I know that the rest of the summer will be a blast!

New after-school Middle School Academy opens in Mountain View Whisman School District

Peninsula Bridge is excited to launch it's second after-school Middle School Academy site on the Peninsula. In partnership with the Mt. View Whisman School District, Peninsula Bridge has opened an after-school Academy for 6th and 7th graders from Mountain View who are also enrolled in our summer program. We are now supporting 61 students in two after school programs (at Bayside STEM Middle School in San Mateo and Crittenden Middle School in Mountain View). The Middle School Academy provides academic, social-emotional support and inspiring project-based learning 2 days a week after school. Please come visit! If interested, contact Randi Shafton at

For more information on Peninsula Bridge programs from 5th grade through college graduation, click here.

Dear Members of the Menlo Community

Dear Members of the Menlo Community

Yesterday, nearly 400 community members from both Menlo School and Sacred Heart came together for the third annual Valpo Run. The 5K fun run and walk raised $15,000 in support of Peninsula Bridge, which helps prepares highly motivated underserved students for success in college preparatory school programs and four-year colleges. Menlo School has proudly had a long history supporting this exceptional program.

Read More