First Day Butterflies Turn into Lasting Bonds During ECS Summer Bridge

Photo: 6th graders at ECMS-I have fun while learning the importance of supporting each other during a Games & Movement class.

First Day Butterflies Be Gone

Take a second to recall how you felt on your first day of middle or high school. Awkward, excited, a little nervous? The transition from elementary school to middle school, or middle school to high school, can be downright daunting for a lot of students. At ECS, however, students have an opportunity during Summer Bridge to get those first-day butterflies out as they meet their peers and get a sneak peek at what their time at ECS will look like weeks before they have to face their first day.

At ECS, our new 6th and 9th graders have just completed two weeks of Summer Bridge, an active and immersive experience during which veteran students, aka mentors, guide them through a variety of activities that introduce them to their classmates, teachers and new campus in an effort to help them start their new school year powerfully.

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Photo: ECHS Mentors at Summer Bridge at ECMS-G getting their “tribes” together.

Community at the Center of It All

Through activities ranging from icebreakers to field trips, students are introduced to our best practice of small learning communities in the form of tribes, which emphasizes team building, communication and trust. Students form tribes with their peers who will soon become their advisory, a group with whom they will regularly meet with for support during their times at ECS.

Bridges Stretch Beyond Our School Walls

In addition to getting exposure to the open and accepting culture of ECS, students learn quickly that our campus extends far beyond our school walls, as they embark upon field trips that expose them to culture, history and the environment. 9th graders participated in a scavenger hunt on LMU’s campus in an effort to expose and excite them to the possibilities that exist after their life at ECS. Students also attended the “No Justice, No Peace: 1992” exhibit at the California African American Museum where they examined an old police cruiser and recalled, through first-hand documentation, the LA Uprising and the socio-political climate of the city we call our home.

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Photo: 6th graders at ECMS-G partnered with Heal the Bay to clean up Dockweiler Beach.

Students at ECMS-Inglewood toured the USC campus and visited the California Science Center. They learned about college life while also learning how everything in our world is connected through ecosystems. At ECMS-Gardena, in partnership with Heal the Bay, students performed a waste clean up and survey at Dockweiler Beach to better understand ocean pollution and its impact on the health of the beach. The field trips during Summer Bridge are just a taste of the urban and outdoor adventures that await them at ECS.

“Summer Bridge is vital to the ECS culture in supporting the transition for all incoming 6th and 9th graders. It takes the anxiety and pressures out of feeling alone at a new school.”
– Lacey Harris, ECHS Counselor

A Big Thank You

ECS’ Summer Bridge offering is an extensive and collaborative effort that we are very proud to provide for our students. A big thank you to all staff, students and partners who give three weeks of their summer to make Summer Bridge an extraordinary experience. “It makes it all worth it,” says Wintor McNeel, one of our counselors and an organizer of Summer Bridge, “when you overhear a student telling their mentor they wish they could spend another week in Summer Bridge.”

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