A Warm Welcome: BHSEC’s Summer Bridge Program (OP-ED)

Helena Klonis, ‘17

High School. After spending part of seventh grade and most of eighth grade researching schools, attending open house events, taking entrance exams, going on interviews and weighing options, the class of ’17 is finally here. It’s all very intimidating to someone who is beginning Ninth Grade. It requires starting over in a place where you return to the bottom of the social pyramid and become newbies again. This major step in a fourteen-year-old’s life requires traveling to a new school, making new friends, learning new ways of doing things, and essentially starting from scratch. In order to ease a bit of the anxiety that comes along with beginning this unknown journey, BHSEC offers the “Summer Bridge Program” for us freshmen to get a taste of what the next four years will be like, and to let us meet new people before the first day of school.

Coming into BHSEC, I only knew of one person from my middle school who was also traveling from the “outer boroughs”. I was nervous because I knew there would be students who came here with large groups of friends from their middle schools. However, during the Bridge Program we were organized into groups containing about 10 students, and we traveled around the school together for our sample classes. This allowed us to mix with people we didn’t necessarily know and get to know them. At first, everyone was able to sense an awkward atmosphere in the room, but once we went through a few classes together, we felt more comfortable with each other. I made a few friends within my group, and genuinely enjoyed the classes. The classes that we took were similar to the ones that will be offered in the years to come including theatre, ping-pong, Chinese, dance, and science lab. The faculty was very welcoming and kind, and helped us adjust to our transition. We also became familiar with the layout of the school, including where the library, cafeteria, and gym are located. During those two days, we participated in many enjoyable, “ice-breaking” activities, which seemed geared to getting to know each other as well as introducing us to our new school community.  We even had a field day event that included a tug-of-war game at the end of the last day!

On my first day of school at BHSEC, I recognized many classmates from the Summer Bridge Program, with whom I have been spending time during the first few weeks of school. I was glad to see familiar faces, which relieved some of the stress accompanied with starting anew. Because of the two days at Summer Bridge, I felt comfortable navigating the building and getting to my assigned classrooms. I am sure that if I did not attend the Summer Bridge Program, I would have most likely been more confused and anxious on the first day. Holly Hutchinson, a fellow freshman, says, “I thought that it set up a good basis for the kind of questions BHSEC makes us ask such as ‘believe or doubt’.” The program gave a bit of insight into daily life at the school that you could not have possibly received during any sort of open house or orientation. The program provided 9th graders with a sense of familiarity that put everyone at ease on the first few days, even though there is a long, challenging journey ahead.

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