The night’s two hours of displays and performances denoted the culmination of a summer designed to give 100 middle school students—most of whom are from low-income households and will be the first in their families to go to college—the confidence they will need to be academically successful in high school and beyond, the program’s Executive Director Hilary Mead said.
In the first hour of Celebration, many students stood by posters, graphs and experiments from classes this summer.
Loren Chen, a rising seventh grader at the Martin Luther King School and second-year Summerbridge student, said the favorite dessert he learned to make in his “Chemistry of Cake” class was Mary Fields apple cake.
As he passed out “Summerbridge Sports Illustrated” magazines from his “cleats and commas” class, Chen added that his favorite memory from the program was his group’s second-place finish in a contest to see who could pick up the most litter alongside the Charles River last summer.
Jason Yu, a rising seventh grader at Belmont Day School, said his “Move That Body” anatomy class had determined through surveys that Summerbridge students got enough exercise, but needed to cut fast food from their diets and add in several glasses of milk.
Meanwhile, other students performed skits in a rehearsal room at the Kresge Auditorium. Stephan Silva, a sixth grader who anchored a mathematically oriented “nightly news” program that featured graphs on politics, entertainment, sports and the weather, said he had practiced for hours for four straight days to nail his part.
“I think it turned out great,” he said.
Later, all the spectators watched as Summerbridge students performed a step dance, a trial of six countries involved in World War I and poetry readings on the main stage.
Teacher Charity C. Glass ’05—herself once a Summerbridge student in Pittsburgh—spoke about what the program meant to her over the years.
“Summerbridge is not a place or a job or a camp—it is a lifestyle and a community,” Glass said.
The night concluded with “Spirit Boy” and “Spirit Girl,” the Summerbridge mascots, leading the teachers in an ode to their students.
“Celebration is one of the first experiences our students have in being in a big production and rehearsing and trying again and performing on a big stage in front of people,” Mead said. “They are setting a new bar of excellence for themselves in terms of what they can do.”
Despite what Mead calls a misleading name, Summerbridge is a year-round tutoring program for Cambridge public school students.
Beginning in the sixth grade, the pupils are asked to make a two-year commitment to take on the workload from the program—which Mead said includes not only additional class time during the year, but also six weeks of classes and two hours of homework per day in the summer.