Local middle and high school students took park in Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano’s 16th summer providing academic and life-enriching programs, serving highly motivated local students as they pursue their goal of college graduation and ultimately aim to end the cycle of poverty for their family.
This summer’s program was a mixture of online learning and in-person community-building days for students of Breakthrough, a tuition-free program founded, hosted and sponsored by St. Margaret’s. In total, students were at St. Margaret’s on five different occasions for themed community-building activities.
“One in particular was ‘Heroes Day,’” said outgoing Breakthrough SJC Director Alex Serna. “On that day, students wrote letters to people in the community who they considered to be heroes during the pandemic. The letters were to people like first responders, grocery workers, teachers and parents.”
The themed days supplemented virtual days four days a week with core academic programming in subjects like math, English, history, science, electives and advisory, which were taught by Breakthrough SJC teaching fellows, often college students found through Breakthrough Collaborative. Several of the teaching fellows this year were Breakthrough alumni themselves.
In all, more than 120 students took part in the summer programming. Nearly all Breakthrough students are from low-income backgrounds and strive to be the first in their families to go to college.
One Breakthrough parent said of their student’s experience, “She came home with countless stories about the fun activity with her small group and showed us the performance she did with her group. It was so awesome to see and feel her enthusiasm. We love this program and are beyond thrilled for the opportunity.”
Breakthrough SJC has grown substantially in recent years. Joining its mainstay summer middle school session are other programs that expand the number of students helped as they work toward a college degree. That includes weekly tutoring sessions for high school students, college counseling support for students and parents, and even a career readiness series for current college students who are Breakthrough alums.