I recently came across a Letter to the Editor that was written in response to an article about the 23 9th graders from Bridgeton High School selected as scholarship recipients for the Give Something Back Foundation.
In the letter, the author — a former New Jersey school board president — challenged his previous school district to up its game if it wants to to mirror the achievements of Bridgeton High School.
We must shift the direction, he said, as he complained about the abysmal graduation rate —74 percent — and the more than 40 students in the district’s high school that have been introduced to the criminal justice system.
He concluded by saying, Dead weight in the administration and guidance department and unreliable teachers, must ‘walk the plank.’
Located an hour from Philadelphia, the city of Bridgeton, NJ, contains some of the most impoverished neighborhoods south of Camden, and one of the highest crime rates in the state.
One of the reasons we selected to partner with Bridgeton High School (BHS) is because of the tremendous support its students receive from the administration and guidance department. In fact, if not for the persistence of Bill Waterman, Bridgeton’s school-to-career counselor, who basically said — Hey, come look at us! You need to come look at us! — honestly we may have not noticed.
Bridgeton High School has a lot to be proud of. According to Kelly Dun, the executive director for the Give Something Back Foundation’s New Jersey program, it has tried to create a culture where school is a safe place, even if the neighborhood isn’t.
Every adult we spoke to seemed so invested in the kids’ success, said Kelly of BHS. In their interviews, we heard it from students, too – that the teachers really care about them.
And so we’ve awarded its 23 student applicants with scholarships for full rides to college. These kids are going to get great reinforcement from BHS’s staff through their high school years, in addition to what our mentoring program will provide. The way I see it, they are a good investment — the type of students we want to send to our partner colleges and universities. I expect great things from them.
As I looked at the photos of the BHS students we selected on the day we announced their scholarships — faces beaming with pride — and when I see a letter to the editor like the one I described above, I think to myself, if only we can help them all!
So I challenge you: Help us help as many kids as we can get to college by donating to the Give Something Back Foundation. We’re on a roll here, and it’s clear to all of us the difference we are making.