2021 Bridge program welcomes new Third Formers

Agnes Irwin and Haverford students work at Skunk Hollow, August 19, 2021 – The Agnes Irwin School

As we return to an academic year with a hope for the reestablishment of Haverford’s communal brotherhood, activities that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prohibited last year return to connect students.

The Bridge program introduces Third Form students who are new to the Haverford community with six days of community-building activities. The Bridge orientation is held each summer for new Third Form students to learn about the school community and their new peers.

“The goal,” Upper School Dean of Students Mr. Luqman Kolade said, “is to get [students to the point] where when they get on campus, they know some people, they know some faces, they know some teachers, and they know some places around campus. It’s to establish a comfort level.” The program also prioritizes engagement.

Bridge is also held just to have fun, too—to build cohesion within the class— within that group of new boys.

Mr. Luqman Kolade

“Bridge is also held just to have fun, too—to build cohesion within the class— within that group of new boys,” Mr. Kolade said.

Mr. Kolade, among other faculty members from Haverford and Agnes Irwin, assumes the role of organizing and running Bridge. The program is jointly run with Agnes Irwin to allow students from both schools to familiarize themselves with their new school environments. Students were able to attend programming at both schools.

“This year, there were two separate sessions: three days just at Haverford and three days at Agnes Irwin,” Mr. Kolade said.

As a result of limited communal engagement last year as a result of COVID-19 protocol, other students were also invited to this year’s event.

“[The Bridge program] actually in- included students who were new to the Second Form last year,” Mr. Kolade said. “The Middle School was in cohorts last year, so they never got to formally meet their entire class. We had some new-to-Haverford Third Formers, as well as some who were new the previous year.”

For students at Bridge, relaxed group activities were inter-mixed with immersion to school spaces.

“[We want to] allow new students to get used to the procedures of the school, answering questions about the transition experience,” Mr. Kolade said. “In addition, there was a scavenger hunt, other icebreaker activities, and relationship-building pursuits.”

Many were also exposed to upper-class leadership, including Honor Council and Signet Society members. The days of activity culminated in bowling and a final service project in which students went to Skunk Hollow, a local community garden.

There’s a lot of shoveling mulch and wheel-barrowing things across when gardening, and it was hot and sweaty. It was a lot of fun, but it was hard work that required teamwork. I could see, even by the way kids were talking to me, I could see the comfort level sort of growing.

Mr. Luqman Kolade

Mr. Kolade said, “There’s a lot of shoveling mulch and wheel-barrowing things across when gardening, and it was hot and sweaty. It was a lot of fun, but it was hard work that required teamwork. I could see, even by the way kids were talking to me, I could see the comfort level sort of growing.”

Ultimately, creating a sense of comfort with peers and fostering the camaraderie of the Haverford community this year was the goal, especially when such aspects lacked in the height of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sixth Formers who graduated last year talked about what they missed about the Haverford experience because of COVID, and it largely fell on coming together and being connected,” Mr. Kolade said. “Being able to provide some of those qualities that make Haverford, Haverford—you know the community building and the little things that we do as a community—was nice to do in that Bridge cohort.”-