Site Spotlight: Bridge Academy (written and coordinated by Grace D'Antuono)

Bridge Academy, is an alternative high school to benefit teens who are dealing with drug, mental health or behavioral issues that prevent them from thriving in a standard high school environment. Many have varying backgrounds; some formerly incarcerated, some are mothers, and others are fighting mental illness. Some of these tribulations may have gotten in the way of their attendance at their public high school, but after ten consecutive days of absence, the Manchester School Department prohibits students from returning to classes (Board of Schools Committee). This policy provides no mercy and narrows the chance of success tremendously. However, by taking individualized classes at Bridge Academy, students are given the opportunity to earn their high school diploma.

IMG_3599The program started towards the beginning of the fall semester of 2016, and when I was told I was going to be in charge of it I didn’t know what to expect. As any other volunteer, I knew I would be working as a teacher’s assistant, something I had done before, but never like this. The first time I went to the school I was unsure if I would be able to handle this new situation. I was intimidated by the idea of working with the unknown. I was afraid that they wouldn’t like me. I was nervous to be out of my comfort zone. Most of all, I was scared by the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to make connections with any students because our backgrounds are so different.

After attending a few classes there, I realized the reasons that I was afraid are the very same reasons I belonged there. We were each venturing outside of our comfort zones, and working towards a better future. I became outraged that a policy as unforgiving as that of the Manchester School Department exists, knowledgeable of lives separate of my own, and a better person because of my experience volunteering there.

At Bridge Academy, the students take lessons in math and English, while I learn from their resilience and hope.

To further your learning outside of the Saint A’s classroom contact Grace D’Antuono at gdantuono@anselm.edu