Antioch High to introduce Puente Project next school year

Antioch and Pittsburg High School students and staff work together to present the Puente program. Top left to right: Stephon Cartwright, Ivana Zelda , Danni Le, Andrea Zárate, Jennifer Swatzell and Violeta Orozco. Bottom: Daniel Villafan and Jesus Cano.

To offer students a bridge to college, community service

By Jesus Cano

Established in 1981 at Chabot College in Hayward, according to their website, “the Puente Project is a national award-winning program that…has improved the college-going rate of tens of thousands of California’s educationally underrepresented students. Its mission is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders to future generations. The program is interdisciplinary in approach, with writing, counseling and mentoring components.”

The program’s headquarters are located at the University of California, Berkeley but expand all over the Golden State as north as Woodland all the way the way down south to Coachella Valley.

Some of Puente’s statistics include having 800 students in Northern California, but the number that left the families in the room most impressed, was a 79 percent, four-year university acceptance rate amongst program members.

The word puente in Spanish means bridge, and the program helps provide a bridge for students to college and community service.

“Bringing Puente to Antioch High is one of my biggest successes,” Antioch Vice Principal Stephon Cartwright said. “The immediate goal is to build up a Puente Family.”

Since Antioch will inaugurate their first year of Puente, they will be receiving a lot of assistance from eight year Pittsburg High School Puente counselor Danni Le and her staff. In fact, Le brought four of her elite Puente students to speak at the meeting in order to provide personal experience about the program.

“The biggest advantage about being in Puente is having a family bond with your fellow Puentistas,” Le said.

In order to be accepted into Puente, you must complete a summer session, where members interact with each other in order to have that early family aspect. Le states that the summer session is one of the most pivotal moments in the program’s duration.

Antioch High is currently recruiting 8th graders that will be attending the school in the fall. The process will consist of submitting an application, then following an interview. However, not all students will be admitted.

Principal Louie Rocha made an appearance and introduced the Puente staff who will include Violeta Orozco – Puente Counselor, Stephon Cartwright – Puente Vice Principal and Jennifer Swatzell – Puente English Teacher

Personally, I am part of the Puente program at Pittsburg High School and it is a very beneficial program to be in. It heavily improved my writing and opened my eyes about college and my future. If you are a parent wanting to enroll your child in this program, do not hesitate. This is a positive life changing program that any student must take advantage of.

To apply contact Mrs. Orozco at VioletaOrozco@antioch.k12.ca.us or call (925)729-7550 ext. 40230.

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