Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Two Bridges Students in Youth Leadership Greenville Class II

LaKeshia Ellis and Samantha Jones were recently selected for Class II of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce program, Youth Leadership Greenville. LaKeshia is a student at Carolina Academy and is currently serving her school as Junior Class President. Sam is a student at Riverside High School and was selected last spring to attend the Hugh O'Brian Leadership Institute. Both students are enrolled in Honors classes and are leaders in their schools. With this new opportunity they will lead our community! We are so proud of these two amazing young women!

Monday, July 30, 2007

All good things must come to an end...

Bridges culminates each year with a banquet at which we recognize our graduating class. This year was particularly special because it was our 10th anniversary and former director Judith Chandler-Huse attended along with several other past graduates.
The students looked lovely and we enjoyed a formal dinner, followed by a speaker and an awards ceremony. Awards were given to 2 Valedictorians, 2 Humanitarians, 1 Chandler-Huse Scholarship recipient, and approximately 50 academic achievement certificates. In addition, we gave a new scholarship entitled the "Mrs. D" Scholarship (given by one of our teachers, Mrs. Duggan) and 2 Personal Growth Awards.

The banquet ended with a slide show and comments from the graduating class, the Iotas. Many tears were shed...
We LOVE you Iotas and we will MISS you!
The graduating Iota Class

The counselors

Our final week...

The 4th and final week is always filled with mixed emotions. It is typically the most fun week, as well as the saddest.

On Tuesday night we held our talent show. The talent show is a mixture of student acts and skits and finishes with the counselor skit recapping many of the funny moments from the summer. I am always blown away by how talented our students are.

Friday was our end of the year trip and we travelled to Carowinds in North Carolina. We spent the entire day riding the rides and swimming and sliding in the water park. For many students, this was their first time at an amusement park and their first time riding a roller coaster. We had a blast and returned late on Friday night - exhausted but happy.

At the park...

BLAST from the PAST

Saturday night was our dance but this year's dance was a little different - it had a 70's theme.

A week earlier, all 75 students and 13 counselors tie-dyed tee-shirts. The students put their own twist on their shirts by cutting off the sleeves or fraying the bottom. The counselors dressed in their best 70's attire, which included Afros, bell bottoms, and platform shoes.
We danced the night away to 70's music (with a few current favorites thrown in). The students even got to dress up like the Village People and perform the YMCA. The night ended with karaoke, hugs, and a new appreciation for the 70's.

The Counselors

In our tie-dye

A BUSY Weekend!

We ended this week with field trips to College of Charleston and Sliding Rock.

The Kappas and Iotas woke up early on Friday morning and traveled to Charleston to visit the beautiful College of Charleston. We took a tour, talked with an admissions representative, and ate lunch in their Dining Hall. Afterwards, we traveled 20 minutes to a local water park and spent the afternoon sliding down the slides and swimming in the wave pool.

In front of the CofC Cougar

The Lambdas also had a fun filled day. In the morning, they took a tour of Papercutters Inc. (here in Greenville) and ate lunch there. After lunch they traveled to Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest. Even though the water was cold, the students enjoyed sliding down the rock again and again. They finished off their evening with movies on campus.

The Lambdas touring Papercutters Inc.

At Sliding Rock

YIPPEE for a fun day for both groups!

Saturday was our annual car wash. Each class was at a different fast food location and it was impressive to observe the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment the students invested in this activity (it does not hurt that this was a class competition). Overall, the students raised $2,000!!! The money raised went towards our end of the year trip to Carowinds.

The Iotas are working hard

Our wonderful sign holders at the Kappa Car wash!


The counselors decided to keep the details of our 4th of July celebration a surprise and each counselor had their own version of what we would be doing
One counselor said we were going to Clemson...

another said to the Greenville History Museum...

and another said we were staying at Furman....
After class on the 4th, not knowing where we were going (and with lots of questions), all 75 students loaded into the vans for a 45 minute drive to the beautiful Pinnacle Falls Camp in the mountains. We played ultimate Frisbee and volleyball, had a water fight, swam in the pond, and played board games. The night ended with sparklers and ice cream. Several of the students said that this was their favorite 4th of July - SUCCESS!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

From everyone here at Bridges to a Brighter Future, we want to wish you a Happy 4th of July! The students are in for a special treat...let's just say that it involves a massive grill and over 150 hamburgers and hot dogs.

Field trips on Friday this week-more about that soon!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two weeks down, two to go...

We're at the halfway point, and with only two weeks left, things have been going great! Yesterday the students had the chance to St. Francis Hospital, the Greenville County Museum of Art, USC and Claflin University. We've got some great pictures from that, so keep your eyes open!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pictures of the first few days...

Wednesday I took some time to follow the Lambda class around Greenville, and here's what we came up with...
Whether it was visiting with the new artistic director of the Warehouse Theatre...

Or stopping on the Reedy River bridge with the executive director of Vision 2025...

Or doing some rubbings of famous locations during a downtown scavenger hunt...

Or even dancing in celebration, our Lambdas kept moving and having a great time!

Here are some more pictures from the first week-

Two Iotas spend some quality time with their mentee. The older students act as mentors to the new students, to help them get acquainted with the program.

The older students went to Paris mountain over the weekend on a retreat, and here's a picture of them moving supplies for a campfire.
The Kappas are still all smiles, even when they're all tied up!

New Head Counselor Bailey Johnson takes a break from canoeing to show us her smile. The counselors were out of town for 2 whole days for intense training, in preparation for the beginning of camp.
Here they are in the woods!

Some of the Kappa ladies take a break from art class to remind us how Bridges brings people together.

This weekend is community service and a pool party, so keep your eyes open for more!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bridges Underway

It's been a few days, and already the program is off to a great start! The students have all been checked in, and over the weekend the Lambda class got to know each other, as well as the older students. The older students had a busy retreat at Paris Mountain for a the entire first day, and then they got a chance to meet their mentees (all the older students are asked to serve as a mentor to the younger students). Yesterday classes started, and tomorrow the field trips start-you can already tell that Bridges gets busy! Keep your eyes open for some pictures in the coming days!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

3 More to go

We've only got 3 more days left before the summer program gets underway! Saturday morning our team will start setting up, and by lunchtime most of the students will have arrived at Bridges for the summer. Included are just a few pictures of what check-in has looked like in the past. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

4 Left...

With 4 days left, let's talk a bit about what actually happens at Bridges. The core of the program is academic enrichment: Greenville county teachers come into the classroom, free to focus more closely on specific areas, and reinforce what was learned during the previous school year. The classes often have a deep impact on the students, since the faculty spends more one on one time with the Bridges kids. During the rest of the day and night, we supplement that with outdoor activities and cultural events in the evening, and community speakers in the mornings. Once a week the group takes a field trip to colleges or interesting places in the Greenville community. And on the weekends, the students participate in community service activities in the morning and have a little bit of fun at night (see the above picture from last year's ice skating adventure). Come back tomorrow to learn more about the vision and goals of Bridges

PS-The first two directors of the program were Sarah Fletcher and Judith Chandler-Huse!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Less than a week!

We're at the 5 day mark now, so let's take a little look at the interior of the Bridges office...Here's Mrs. Linda Cook, the Bridges Administrative Assistant, working hard to get the paperwork in order for the summer!
Current program director Tobi Swartz takes a quick break from her hectic schedule for a peek into the director's office. She and the counselors are out of town training RIGHT NOW for Saturday. Get excited!

Before we leave, here's some Bridges trivia-
Who were the first 2 directors of the program? Find out tomorrow!

Friday, June 08, 2007

2 Down, 8 to Go...

Giovanna Gomez with former counselor
Beth Whetmore
Casey Crisp with Kappa Ty Gregory
In the program's long and storied history, several Bridges graduates go on to actually attend Furman University, where the summer program takes place. However, a few exceptional students go one step further by becoming counselors themselves. In the last 3 years, we've had 2 students take on that role-Giovanna Gomez (affectionately referred to by the students as "G-Unit") and Casey Crisp (who is also the coordinator for Saturday College). The program impacted them both enough to encourage them to give back to it in one of the busiest ways possible. Without the counselors, the program would lose a great deal of its steam-they not only provide mentor support, but they keep an eye on the students outside of the classroom, take them around campus and accompany them on field trips, and they do so many more things that would be too extensive to list. Let this then be a salute to counselors past and present-we love you for everything that you do!
See you on Monday!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

9 more days!

As we continue to celebrate the history of the Bridges program, we bring you a picture of the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma classes working at a Habitat for Humanity build during the earliest years of the program. We've got some big things in store for this 10th year, but it's all a pretty big secret. The first class (Alpha) had only 14 students, while the Gamma class had only 9 students! Things had jumped by 2001, when the Epsilon class registered a massive 23 students-and it's only been growing from there. Last year the Kappa class brought an unprecedented 28 students into the program, bringing last years total numbers very close to 80 students. A 10 year growth from under 20 students to almost 80 is huge, and a testament to the life changing power of the Bridges program. Check back tomorrow for more!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

10 and Counting!

There are only 10 days left until the 10th Bridges to a Brighter Future summer program gets under way! To honor this milestone, we'll be counting down the days before the program with exciting words, thoughts, and pictures. We'd like to start with a selection from the Opinion section of the Greenville News from February 10, 2007:

"Bridges program builds futures"

'Thumbs up to Furman's Bridges to a Brighter Future program, highlighted recently in a column and an article in The Greenville News. This is a pre-college academic enrichment program that's designed to help high school students who have the potential to succeed in college, but not the means to do so. This is a good effort that will improve the community by putting smart kids on the path to success.'

Thanks, we think so too!
Check back tomorrow for more...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Congratulations to our graduating Thetas on a job well done! You made it! Happy trails and many blessings as you continue on your journey-we'll be excited to hear how your future shines.


As is always the case with Bridges, we have plenty of pictures to recap the last few months of the program:

Sadly, Glenis Redmond won't be with us this summer (she'll be in Haiwaii!), but she was kind enough to give a poetry workshop during the last Saturday College of the school year.

The Bridges kids after HOG day 2007, and a painting well done!

Here are the kids taking a quick break for a photo op.
Future Furman student Jorge Jiminez helps to paint.
We're working as hard as we can to get this summer's program ready. More to come soon!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bridges in the Community!

Saturday May 12, 2007 was a HUGE day for the Greenville community. It was HOG day 2007! No, not the pigs, Hands on Greenville, a volunteer organization, sponsored a day long volunteer marathon. At the end of the day, over 7800 manhours were logged helping with a variety of projects throughout Greenville. Bridges to a Brighter Future got involved by painting at Grove Elementary school and helping Central Community Ministries with other projects. All in all it was a truly remarkable day for Bridges as well as the community! Find out more about Hands on Greenville here. More information (and of course some pictures!) to come.

A New Look!

You may have noticed that the blog has a new look. Well, we thought that since we're approaching the 10th anniversary of Bridges, we'd make some changes. Now things are in motion to get ready for the summer! Keep checking back, because things only get better from here.

Bridges in the NFL?

Surprised? We were too, when we discovered that David Jones, a member of the Delta class, has been drafted to the NFL! He'll be playing as a cornerback for the New Orleans Saints, and he's graduated from Wingate College. We wish him the best of luck as he begins his professional career.

Check out David's player page here.
You can read about him playing in the prestigious Hula Bowl here!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Leadership Team Retreat

The Bridges to a Brighter Future leadership team was elected by their peers on at Saturday College on March 19. Being elected to leadership team is quite an honor! The election process includes a nomination process and voting. Every student in the Iota class was nominated, a testimony to the depth of leadership ability among all of the Bridges students.

However, for the past two years, five students exhibited leadership skills above the norm. These young people possess outstanding character traits and treat their peers with compassion, dignity, and respect. The five students voted to the leadership team were Daphnie Glenn, Luis Gonzales, Victor Orozco, Rosa Rivera, and Neizel Songalia.

The Leadership Team after being elected on March 19.
L to R: Neizel Songalia, Luis Gonzales, Daphnie Glenn,
Victor Orozco, and Rosa Rivera

To further develop individual leadership skills and unity among the team members, the leadership team went on an overnight retreat during spring break to the Camp at Pinnacle Falls, a youth retreat camp developed by the Cliffs Communities, Inc.
The goals of the leadership retreat were to:
  • Develop leadership skills;
  • Understand personal strengths and weaknesses;
  • Increase trust within the leadership team;
  • Define the role of the leadership team; and
  • Learn how to support each other and Bridges staff.

In order to meet these goals, the students participated in two days of group activities and challenges. The camp provided a beautiful landscape upon which to reflect, far away from the city atmosphere and free of cell phones! The leadership team had a lot of fun and learned a great deal about each other and themselves. Here are some pictures from the retreat:

Carrying the leader up the trail in the blanket.
Understanding how to support leadership.

Trust walk up the pinnacle falls trail.
Building trust and communication.

Write your name
Listening, teamwork, communication, and reaction under stress.

Leadership team enjoying Pinnacle Falls!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bridges Graduates Doing GREAT Things!

There are so many Bridges graduates following the mantra they heard everyday of Bridges, "Go forth and do good things," that it is difficult to keep up with them all! Here are a few recent graduates we have connected with.

Katie Nicholas, a 2004 graduate of Bridges and 2005 graduate of Riverside High School is making her mark at the College of Charleston. As a Sophomore, she has declared her major in Biology with a special concentration in Molecular Biology. She has joined Alpha Chi Sigma, a co-ed Chemistry fraternity. She rounds off her academic work by volunteering weekly at MUSC in Neurology/Neurosurgery. Her duties include manning the nurses station, talking with patients, and passing out magazines/books. With all of this, it is hard to imagine that Katie has time for anything else. However, she is also very involved in Campus Outreach. Her plan is to go to medical school, but as she states, "that may change." Katie's future after college may yet to be determined. Regardless, we are very proud of her success at the College of Charleston!
Two students also doing great things are Shawn Sarsour and Johnathan Stephens. Shawn and Johnathan met at Bridges and continue their friendship long distance as Johnathan attends Azusa Pacific University, located in Azusa, California (near Los Angeles) and Shawn attends Clemson University. I met them for lunch over the holidays in December and learned that they are both succeeding in their first year of college. Shawn is an Engineering major and is doing great in a rigorous curriculum. He lives in a residence hall with other Engineering majors and spends most of his time in the library. Johnathan is a Psychology major and is spending a lot of time in the gym as he is going to play football as a "walk-on" this fall. Both are challenging themselves in college and excelling! We are proud of them!

Bridges Experience

Bridges Experience

It's not the endless love,
Between complete strangers.
It's not the continuous smiles,
That are completely contagious.
And it's not just the talks,
Where no one is judged.
It's the immediate bond,
That can't collapse.

Here I am safe,
Here I am welcomed.
Judgement is unknown here,
And friends we all are.

A poem written by Bridges student Ashlee Ware.
Ashlee is a student at Hillcrest High School