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S E C T I O N 2 Stories about people and events in the community. ■ July 18, 2012 Peninsula Bridge now reaches 400 students By Allison Silverman Special to the Almanac P eninsula Bridge, which for 22 years has conducted summer enrichment programs for motivated kids from under-resourced communities, is expanding its operations on the Peninsula. The program, which holds five-week summer sessions at local private schools, aims to prepare fifth- through eighthgrade students so they are on the college track when they get to high school. The sessions include a mix of academic and enrichment classes, plus recreational activities. The program has grown quite a bit since it started in 1990 with 26 kids. This summer it has 400 students, a third more than in 2010. Now the goal is to reach 600 students by 2015. With growing enrollment has come new school sites. This year, two more schools — Pinewood in Los Altos and Saint Francis in Palo Alto — host Peninsula Bridge summer sessions, bringing the number of participating campuses to nine, including two at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton. Menlo School in Atherton and Woodside Priory in Portola Valley are also in the program. Deirdre Marlowe, executive director of Peninsula Bridge, said she’d like to find a way to offer services to the students during the school year, possible by forming a closer relationship with local public schools. Though private schools provide the campuses and a large amount of backing for Peninsula Bridge, most students come from public institutions, and the more than 15 public schools in the area also support the program, said Sherri Shaner, Peninsula Bridge’s development director. Academically, Peninsula Bridge students focus on English and mathematics, reviewing what they studied at school over the past year and preparing for the next. The average studentteacher ratio is 4 to 1, giving the kids extensive “individual attention,” said Ms. Shaner. Weekly field trips and daily classes on such topics as nutrition and art provide valuable extracurricular experience “often lost in middle school” but important to develop student confidence in the classroom, she said. Students attend a different campus each year so they can experience new environments and use what each school has to offer, explained Ms. Shaner. The fifth-graders attend single-sex campuses, but after the first year the campuses are co-ed. At Castilleja School in Palo Alto, fifth-grade girls use the dance studio to practice dance, something “many have never experienced before,” said one of Almanac photo by Daniella Sanchez Teacher assistant Amanda Louie works with students Angie Ortiz, left, and Valeria Fuentes during a math lesson regarding prices and percentages at the Peninsula Bridge program at Castilleja School. the teacher assistants. An important aspect of the Bridge program is the leadership role of teacher assistants, who are high school and college-age volunteers. Many of the assistants have participated in Bridge programs as students, and want to give back, said Mary Hulburt, site director at Castilleja. “I’ve never had to recruit TAs,” she said. Because the assistants come from similar circumstances, the students relate to them and look up to them, said Ms. Shaner — a sentiment seconded by the Castilleja school director and the students themselves. The assistants grow into leadership roles by teaching classes, creating their own curriculum, and providing role models for the Bridge participants, said a descriptive flier. This year an Olympics theme permeates many activities, such as a “walk to London” challenge, where students strap on pedometers and, working in teams, try to walk the total number of miles between here and London. The goal is to remind students of the hard work needed to achieve success. At Castilleja, some of the girls are “getting very into it,” Ms. Shaner said with a laugh. The girls run up the stairs and jump in line to fit in as many steps as possible into their day. Visit for more information on the Peninsula Bridge prograrm. SRI wins grants to develop technologies Students win scholarships SRI International in Menlo Park recently received two federal grants, one to develop technology to use natural gas in vehicles, and the other to develop an oral therapy for multiple sclerosis. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $875,000 to SRI to develop low-pressure natural gas storage tanks for light-duty vehicles. SRI’s approach “using porous carbon materials will provide structural strength and high surface area for gas adsorption that will entirely eliminate the need for a costly external tank,” the department said in its July 12 announcement. SRI is one of 13 companies nationwide that will receive a total of $30 million in federal Twenty-eight local students were recently awarded college scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 each under a program called Pursuit of Excellence, started by Jerry and Dick Smallwood of Palo Alto. The scholarships are seen as a “tipping point” for these students in terms of helping them go to college. Since 1985, about 330 students have received grants totaling more than $2 million. The program includes a mentoring program to help with future economic needs. Recipients are recommended by school counselors and teachers. Below are recipients from high schools in the Almanac’s area, with funds to develop technologies to reduce the inefficiencies associated with using natural gas as a vehicle fuel, the department said. SRI will develop natural gas storage tanks for vehicles and an oral drug for multiple sclerosis. This initiative attempts to move beyond the high pressure, large size and high cost of traditional natural gas fuel systems. “The projects will also focus on developing natural gas compressors that make it easier for consumers to re-fuel at home,” the department said. Go to to download a PDF document describing the other projects. Multiple sclerosis drug The Department of Defense medical research programs have awarded a one-year $131,000 grant to SRI to develop an oral therapy for multiple sclerosis. The new medication would be designed to be more convenient for patients than the current intravenous infusions or injections that sometimes require hospital visits. It also could help patients who are not responding to current methods. the college they plan to attend. ■ Menlo-Atherton High School: Jessamine Zamora, UC Santa Cruz; Shanissa Armand, Holy Names University, Oakland; Daniel Estrella, California State University, East Bay; and Victor Alvarez Chavez, San Francisco State. ■ Woodside High School: Christian Cuevas, UC Santa Barbara; Marlene Rosales, Canada College; Karina Zapata, UC Santa Cruz; Martin Esquivias, UC Santa Cruz; and Pierre Abdel-Malek, Cal Poly. ■ Summit Prep: Janice Bonello, California State, Monterey. Go to for more information. — Allison Silverman July 18, 2012NTheAlmanacOnline.comNThe AlmanacN17

The Almanac 07.18.2012 - section 2

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