Bridge Leadership Program Founder's Day Celebration April 3, 2024

The Bridge Leadership Program was created at Central High School in 2020.

“It served as a catalyst for building meaningful relationships among students from diverse backgrounds. As students from various ethnicities, cultures, and experiences came together in this program, they embarked on a journey of understanding, empathy, and camaraderie.” – Jaylah C., 284

This mentorship program connecting upper and lower classmen offers a valuable opportunity to cultivate leadership skills and foster community, especially as incoming ninth graders navigate their transition to a new environment.

Since its inception, the program has supported hundreds of ninth graders from classes 283, 284, 285, and 286, as well as provided mentorship training to 66 Bridge Big Siblings each school year. 

The program has also hosted 3 Summer Programs, virtually and in-person, and has hosted Parent/Family workshops, serving as a Bridge for new families at Central. 

This week, the Bridge Leadership Program hosted a Founder’s Day Celebration reception to honor graduating seniors and recognize the key stakeholders who made this program possible. 

BLP founders day event
Top: Graduating seniors, 283, who were the first freshman cohort of Bridge Builders Bottom left: Dr. Keith Leaphart, 251, Chief Health Equity and Community Impact Officer, Thomas Jefferson University Bottom right: Bridge Leadership 2023-2024 T- Shirt Design by Joanna L., 285

When expressing the importance of the program and in celebrating Founder’s Day, Bridge faculty advisor, Mr. Kenneth Hung emphasized that the Bridge Leadership Program was created by students, for students. 

He shared a powerful message,

“There’s a golden thread that connects you to past students who face the same challenges that you may be facing right now, but chose to do something about those challenges, not just for them, but for everyone at the school.”

As we look to build a better future, we must reflect and learn from those that have walked the same halls. The Central High community has an incredible network of alumni that have laid the foundation for future students to succeed.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Keith Leaphart, 251, shared a powerful story with the students on how the Central community changed his life and professional trajectory. 

“There was no roadmap, there was no one to guide me in any specific direction. It was the network at Central that actually made me who I am today and helped me to get to where I am.”  

Dr. Leaphart, a first-generation college student who has broken through barriers to become a successful physician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist is currently serving as the Chief Health Equity and Community Impact Officer at Thomas Jefferson University. 

Committed to equitable access and securing opportunities for economic mobility of all young people, Dr. Leaphart is a founding supporter of the Bridge Program.

Bridge Leadership Program (3)

After a successful celebration in the auditorium, the event moved to the Spain Conference Center for a reception highlighting the work of the Bridge Photography Committee

Dedicated to documenting and showing the core ideas of what it means to be a student in the Bridge Leadership Program, students came up with four themes they felt best described the program: student leadership, diversity, starting new beginnings, and making memories.

Led by fellow student leaders who have experience being in the program and as photographers, the students took pictures over the course of the school year that reflected those themes, and wrote an artist statement explaining their selection for the exhibit.

The Bridge Leadership Program stands as a testament to the creation of a safe and welcoming school for incoming students to learn from current students, their peers, and faculty members as they prepare to transition to a rigorous academic program at Central. 

As we honor our graduating seniors and celebrate the achievements of our students, let us also recognize the invaluable contributions of our alumni, such as Dr. Keith Leaphart, who continue to inspire and uplift future generations.

Together, as a united Central community, we embark on a journey of growth, resilience, and collective success.