Bridges Area Learning Center
Quarter 1 Community Newsletter
Greetings Bridges Community,
The school year is upon is and we are into Fall! This will be my ninth year opening our school to students in the Prior Lake-Savage area and the south metro to redefine their educational journey. I often am asked how is Bridges different to a 'traditional' educational setting. Below are some highlights that I often reference:
- Schedule: students schedules are based on ability, need and likelihood of success - not age based classes. Each period finds a mix of students based on many factors.
- Size: we have about 100 students in our school with class sizes of about 15-17 on average. This small size often finds us receiving comments from our students that Bridges becomes a family.
- Teachers: Our teachers are ABSOLUTELY great!! They have been here from 3 - 9 years and are 100% committed to getting to know their students, establishing positive relationships with them and meeting them where they are to partner with them to move forward in their learning.
- Support staff: Academics is, obviously, a vital component of a student's educational journey. At Bridges we highly value the social and emotional components of our students educational journey. To that end, we have several support staff that meets with students collectively and individually. These staff members include a social worker, licensed drug and alcohol counselor, guidance counselor, special education teacher, therapist and school psychologist.
- Hybrid classes: We offer dozens of online classes that allow students to move at their own pace. Students are unique individuals which often benefit from having the flexibility and autonomy of controlling the pace of instruction. Additionally, we have partnered with PLHS to offer independent study classes Monday - Thursday (Monday & Wednesdays@ Bridges; Tuesdays & Thursdays @ PLHS) after school for students who need additional credits.
- JUMP DAYS: About twice a month we pause regular classes and provide support to our students in two broad categories: interventions and enrichments.
These are some of the reasons Bridges had now partnered with hundreds of students and families to progress toward their PLHS diploma. I welcome families and students in all the time to see the school to actually witness what we are doing and feel the positive energy in our school. Feel free to call me anytime to come in and see our school first hand. It is a great place that I love to be. The school year has started out great! Happy Fall!
Bridges ALC Coordinator
MONTHS OF PLANNING RESULTS IN TWO SCHOOL FUNDING REQUESTS ON NOV 7 BALLOT TO ADDRESS PLSAS GROWTH
Did you Know
… that Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools is a popular and growing school district?
· Since 2000, we have averaged more than 225 additional students per year.
· Most of our schools are already at or over capacity, and more families keep moving in.
· Projections indicate our growth will continue, with more than 2,100 additional K-12 students anticipated in our schools in the next ten years.
These are some of the reasons residents are being asked to vote on two school funding requests on the November 7 ballot. Learn more and remember to vote November 7: www.priorlake-savage.k12.mn.us/referendum.
Did you Know
…there are two school funding requests on the November 7 ballot that would impact ALL Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools and students?
· Q1: bond funds to address enrollment, safety and academic needs by building a new elementary school, additions to almost all schools and addressing traffic and high school entrance safety concerns
· Q2: an operating levy increase to hire staff for the growing enrollment, maintain class sizes and operate the additional school spaces
Approval of both requests would also mean
funding to maintain class sizes and current educational programs AND a new Bridges Area Learning Center (ALC) !
DID YOU KNOW
Bridges September Student of the Month - Ben
From his teachers - Ben always gets it done. He is responsible, kind and fun to have in class!
Teacher Corner: Ms. Serefeas, Communications & Bio
New Beginnings @ Bridges
Every year, Bridges ALC is a brand new start. Of course, every school says that: welcoming students back from the summer, filled with energy and ready to begin the year, launching into a new season of school with their best foot forward. And yes, every school does offer that opportunity to take a new approach after the summer break. However, Bridges is truly a new start in a way that other schools aren’t. Last year, a substantial portion of our student body successfully graduated. They are moving on to bigger things, starting their lives as adults, and our well-wishes and hopefully our teachings are going with them. However, even though they have moved on, their success means changes at Bridges in their wake as their former place in the student body is filled with newcomers.
Bridges is a community, a close-knit group of teachers, staff, and most importantly students. Our small size is what makes everything tick – what allows each student to receive individual attention, a personalized learning plan, and recognition of their unique needs and strengths. But that also means that when a new year starts with so many unfamiliar faces in such a small crowd, there is inevitably an adjust period. Teachers are reaching out to new members of the Bridges student body, working hard to get to know everyone without making anyone feel too crowded or pressured. Meanwhile, the students start out a little wary; new and old students taking the measure of each other, watching carefully. After all, with so many new people, you have to be on guard, right? They’re different than us, so who knows what they might do! The first week or two of school is an uncertain time, with everyone coming off of the freedom of summer to try to find their footing in what either is, or feels like a completely new school.
However, hesitation is not really in the nature of teenagers, and within a short time the walls begin to break down. It turns out that new and old students once went to the same school, or lived in the same neighborhood, or just like the same music. Kinship is formed over shared hobbies, or complaining about a tough subject, or just the knowledge that everyone was new once. The separation between the returning Bridges student and the arriving Bridges student begins to blur, the two groups mingling like two rivers coming together. It’s not long until new students are seen – and see themselves – as Bridges students, and as they become a part of our ALC community, we become cohesive once more. What seemed too new, too different, too much of a change becomes the new normal, and everyone settles in to become part of the larger whole.
It is a new year, a new student body, and in many ways a new Bridges…but also, a Bridges that is that is the same in those few crucial ways. It is a place of comfort and safety, of support, of stability and successful starts. It is a place where different can be familiar, and new faces can become old friends. It is a reminder that, although change is constant, when we change and grow together we preserve those feelings and values that are most important to us. And each one of us gets a brand new start, taking that first step into the new year together.
Student Reflection - Anyang
When I first came to bridges I was kind of unsure but I soon loved it. The teachers are amazing, the students are great. There's really no way for you to hate it here. I think people really do underestimate this school, this is one of the best choices I've ever made in my 18 years of living and I would never have it any other way ! Ever since I've been here I made so many friends and have a great connection with my teachers.
Here's some advice I gave myself when transferred over to bridges Alc
You don't have to be best friend with everyone but try to get along with people
Focus on what you came to do
And of course Have a blast !
Quarter 1 Life @ Bridges ALC !
First Day - Energetic Morning!
Ms. Serefeas's Bio Class exploring food webs
Mr. Martin's Projects Class - building planters for experiments in biology
PLSAS naturalist Sue Mohn Presenting in Biology
Active learning in Ms. Nelson's Phy Ed class!
SFC Keckley presenting in Work Program
Ms. Kadel providing one on one instruction to Armando
Mr. Lawson's Gov Class
Graduation and Senior Recognition Highlights from Last Year!
Retired PLHS principal Dr. Lund speaking @ Bridges senior recognition banquet
Private First Class Day stopping by
Gage checking in taking a break from work
Erik dropping by before heading to classes at Normandale
Joe stopping by before beginning at McNally Smith College of Music
Chris checking in before heading to Dunwoody College!
End of the Day
From the student support staff: Mr. Wagner, Bridges Social Worker
Hello! The new school year has started and it has been great seeing our students again! Anxiety is something that many students at Bridges (and elsewhere) struggle with. In an effort to be proactive rather than reactive, Candi Jenkins (our special education teacher) and I have been involved in the formation and running of a popular group called 'Stress Busters'. This is an anxiety and depression support group which Ms. Jenkins and I run first hour Monday through Friday. This group is friendly, respectful, informal (no tests or assignments), informative, educational, and above else supportive.
Ms. Jenkins and I strive to foster a sense of belonging. When students feel socially isolated and that they don't really 'belong' anywhere, anxiety is much, much more likely to present itself. These groups have seen attendance grow steadily every year since we started them. Here are some of the common symptoms of anxiety...particularly in adolescents: talking quickly, insomnia, obsessing over social interactions, being very quick to anger, withdrawing from family or friends, giving up quickly, crying, and panic attacks. If you feel your teenager could benefit from this group, feel free to connect with me at the number below or Ms. Jenkins at 952-226-0843.
Bridges Staff Contact Info
Andrew Martin - Teacher (Math, FABLAB, Projects) & Independent Study Coordinator
Independent Study is held Monday's and Wednesday's from 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Student Support Staff
Bridges ALC Independent Study
Do you know of a student that is behind on credits? Independent Study is a great way for students to make up those lost credits.
Here at Bridges we offer a flexible online based program to get students the credits they need. After a student determines their credit needs, they simply fills out a registration form, brings it in, and they are ready to go within minutes. Each student is enrolled in a class through a browser based program called PLATO.
Each class a student signs up for requires a total of 10 hours of seat time here at Bridges, and this can be done after school on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Once the attendance piece is completed the student will finish the course(s) on their own time. I’ve had many students get caught up, back on track, or even finish up for their diploma through Independent Study. It’s a great program and it provides a great service to our students.
Please contact our Independent Study Coordinator with questions.
JUMP DAY the Only Difference in Bridges Calendar to PLHS
Our school calendar is the same as Prior Lake High School (days off, start/end of quarters, etc) with the exception of JUMP DAYS. These days are designed for students to jump ahead with their grades, academic skills and attendance. During JUMP DAYS we pause regularly scheduled classes and switch to a block schedule (four periods instead of seven). Students are scheduled in periods for interventions and enrichment based on their progress during the quarter. Additionally, students earn make up time for coming in on JUMP DAYS that will be applied to remove absences at the end of the quarter. All students will receive a HYBRID Ticket OR Bridges Ticket before each JUMP DAY. You will receive an email indicating which your student has received the day before JUMP DAY.
If students are progressing well in their classes and there are no issues with attendance they may earn a HYBRID Ticket allowing student choice on where to conduct learning – at Bridges or on their own. If they have received a HYBRID pass students will need to check in with the HYBRID teacher for the JUMP DAY and determine what learning and classes will be done if they will not be coming into Bridges (Plato online classes, class projects or work, project based learning – all of which can be found in students’ learning management system: Schoology).
If students receive a Bridges Ticket they will be expected to attend at Bridges for the JUMP DAY and will be scheduled with teachers that will help support academic progress or skill development. Students earning a Bridges Ticket will have their attendance count towards the attendance policy (7 absences = no credit). Students will be marked absent if they do not attend.
Q1 JUMP DAYS:
Nov 8 & 9 (last day of the quarter and early release)
Mr. Lawson spending some time during his enrichment block with his students!
Quarter 1 Significant dates
Sept 30 - JUMP DAY
Oct 5 - Conferences from 5-8pm
Oct 13 - JUMP DAY
Oct 18 - 22 Fall Break - No Classes
Oct 23 - District inservice day - No Classes
Nov 7 - REFERENDUM VOTE: Strong Schools = Strong Community
Nov 8 - JUMP DAY
Nov 9 - JUMP DAY/Early Release - Last Day of Q1
Nov 10 - Staff Work Day - No Classes
Nov 13 - Q2 Start