Summer Program Blended Academics and the Arts

By Anne Whitney

summer program engineering challenge

Our summer program students during the Physics Olympics.

This summer, The Bridge Golf Foundation expanded its program in a major way. Every day, our young men had an hour of enriching and challenging logic, reading and writing exercises, followed by an hour of arts before heading to the golf course.

They reviewed and discussed articles from The New York Times every day, participated in weekly spelling bees and played logic games. There was also Regents test prep as needed. Most days started with a timed writing exercise.

One day we turned physics and math concepts into real-world building challenges with the Physics Olympics. Teams received a goal, like lifting a pebble as high as possible off the floor, that they had to accomplish with limited supplies and time. In this case, they had 15 pipe cleaners and 15 minutes.

For the second hour of each morning session, before our young men left for their daily golf outing, we switched gears and focused on the arts. Our students either played improv games and prepared scenes with Martin Meyer, our other summer program instructor, or painted with me. One day we did origami.

On our last day of the summer program, we tied up all of our summer projects.

Elijah Opoku working on our Jackson Pollock-inspired group painting.

Elijah Opoku working on our Jackson Pollock-inspired group painting.

We started the day with a short lesson on Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings before everyone tested their hand at making their own Pollock-inspired artwork to take home. After a bit of practice, we made a communal 6-by-8-foot piece. Maybe it will hang in the Learning Center one day!

For the month and a half of the summer program, a few of our eighth graders researched different African countries to prepare for the weekly geography class they take at the Foundation during the regular school year. They concluded their summer by presenting what they learned to the group and answering questions about demographics in their countries of choice.

And last but not least, the students performed four solo or group scenes that they had memorized and practiced under Martin’s summer-long guidance. Highlights included a staged fight, a poetry recitation, and a Bridge-inspired original horror script. The performances were a hit, and to wrap up the day students voted for Best Actor (Josh Arthur), Best Performance (Braylan Stewart), and Best Script (Antonio Cortorreal, Avion Phillip, Kyle Barthelmy, Noah Folks, and Tariq Washington).

The day before our big finale, we also hosted our final spelling bee of the summer and crowned our ultimate spelling champion: Braylan Stewart.

Now our program is on break until school starts again. After a summer of challenging academic sessions, our young men should be well prepared for the start of school.

Anne Whitney, a recent graduate of Columbia University, worked as a tutor in The Bridge Golf Foundation’s summer program. She plans to spend the next year working in the nonprofit sector before attending Harvard Law School in the fall of 2020.