Recently the Santa Cruz Sentinel highlighted the Foundation supported Algebra Bridge program hosted at Harbor High School. In its second year, this innovative program provides intensive, accelerated Algebra 1 and 2 courses for entering and current high school students.

Rising 9th graders and continuing 10th grade students attend class for nearly 7 hours each day for four weeks, completing a full year of Algebra 1. The Bridge pioneers from the summer of 2012 returned this year for Algebra 2 preparation, another step toward completing Advanced Placement Calculus on the path to college and great career options. The Santa Cruz Education Foundation is a proud supporter of this program. We thank our generous donors for helping to make a real difference for kids.

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

A person’s ability to master algebra with all of the complex linear equations, variables, factors and exponents is considered a key factor in their future success, according to many educators.

“Algebra is the gatekeeper for college and advanced careers,” said Keith Hodges, assistant principal at Harbor High School. “It is the marquee course that signifies the college or career path of a student.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel

The importance of algebra is driving a four-week Algebra Bridge Summer Program at Harbor High, where students give up time with friends at the beach to spend nearly seven hours each day studying graphs, square roots and how to make sense of “x,” “y” and “z.”

This is the second summer Santa Cruz City Schools district has offered the algebra refresher course for students who want to get a jump on geometry or make up for a subpar algebra grade earned during the school year.

The district spends about $30,000 to provide the bridge program, Hodges said.

The program expanded this summer to include algebra two, and nearly doubled the number of students involved to 120, he said.

Most of the students will either be freshmen or sophomores when school starts at the end of the month.

Some are using the course to earn 10 credits and go straight to geometry as a freshman, which could lead to advanced placement calculus by their senior year, Hodges said.

“The goal is to make sure they have enough math to qualify for a UC or CSU,” he said.

Ricky Olvera, 15, said he would much rather be kicking around a soccer ball with his Santa Cruz Breakers teammates on sunny days, but instead he’s making up for the “D” grade he received in algebra two last year.

Olvera said his parents made him attend the algebra bridge program, where he gets one-on-one attention from the teacher and aides.

“I wanted a better grade,” he said. “Doing math everyday makes it easier.

Students say the program has helped them understand algebra better because of instructors such as Kelly Bacon, a math major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who is spending the summer teaching at Harbor High.

Bacon is one of 11 teachers, aides and peer tutors helping with the program.

Bacon, 22, often sits with the students to go over problems and offer pointers.

“Math is like a new language,” she said. “They just need someone to pay attention to them while working the problems. They need someone asking the right questions so they can figure it out.”

Ernestina Flores, 15, said algebra has become a little easier in the past couple of weeks.

“I wanted to get help because I’m moving on to geometry and I didn’t really understand algebra,” Flores said. “The parts I didn’t understand, I understand now.”