Summer Bridge: Helping Students Start 9th Grade Confidently

The first time students try anything new it can be challenging. Starting high school can be exceptionally so. 

Students starting high school might be asking themselves: Will it be really different from middle school? Am I ready? Will I make new friends? Will I like my teachers? Will the classes be too difficult? 

This summer, as students prepared to enter 9th grade for the first time, they faced these questions and a host of others. This year in particular, with a turbulent end to the spring semester for many local middle schools, there were more anxieties than ever before. One parent told us that his daughter’s middle school’s spring classes had “no interaction whatsoever.” He said, “it’s hard to keep a kid — at age 14 — focused without some sort of interaction.” With such an abrupt end to learning in middle school, many students and their parents were looking for a way to gain confidence and peace of mind before school started again.

At Quest Forward Academy we are proud to offer this to parents and their students. On July 13, we launched the first annual Summer Bridge Program. Students experienced 9th grade level coursework in English and Math in a stress-free, engaging way. Participants didn’t have to worry about tests or grades. They were able to interact with high school content in a small group with mentors who care about their skills, confidence, and success.

The program was born to help meet a need we saw in the Omaha educational community. We had a mastery of distance learning, digital curriculum materials, and a culture of attentive mentoring. So, we were uniquely equipped to help students feel more prepared for school, safely from their homes. Our Quest! app allows students to engage with learning materials from anywhere with an internet connection. Our class sizes have always been small to ensure productive collaboration and the individual support every student needs and deserves. 

We opened Summer Bridge to students regardless of which high school they planned to attend. We are passionate about helping students find success. What better way to do this than to help them feel at ease going into high school. One dad told us, “it’s an excellent way to gear them up to go back into school, or maybe even get ahead.” See more of his experience, and students’ experiences, in the video below.

Students and parents discuss the challenging end to 8th grade this year and how the Omaha Summer Bridge program helped them feel prepared for high school.

One interesting outcome of our Summer Bridge program is that several families re-thought their high school choice. During the program, students engaged with the content and became familiar with our discovery-based learning model. As a result, several decided that Quest Forward Academy was the right high school for them.

We started out aiming for students to feel more prepared to enter high school. The program ended up being a great way to test drive a high school before 9th grade started. High school plays such an important role in a student’s development. We’re proud to be helping Omaha-area families find their confidence and peace of mind heading into this fall. 

The 2020 Summer Bridge Program is over now, but if you’d like to learn more about next year’s Summer Bridge Program, or about joining Quest Forward Academy, contact Mark at