Bride year pilot program comes to WTHS

Felisha Trani '22

The COVID-19 pandemic has shattered hopes of athletic, academic, and extra-curricular success amidst the global shutdown for the classes of ’21 and ’22. With constantly changing conditions in hybrid and remote instruction, the state of New Jersey announced that it will be offering a new program to serve these graduating classes and give them a chance to “offset disruption to learning opportunities and participation in extracurricular activities and/or NJSIAA spring sports that might have resulted from the closure of school to in-person instruction in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.” The program is titled the “NJDOE Bridge Year Pilot Program”, and it follows specific guidelines and rules that the participating students must follow.

Student athletes looking to participate in the Bridge Year are not able to participate in the NJSIAA fall or winter sports however, they may take part in any spring athletics as long as they pay any applicable WTHS student athletics fees.

Interested students must fill out a form and be enrolled by March of their senior year of high school. The students must be enrolled in the same high school they attended their junior year and must take between 9 and 12 credits each semester. The “graduates” may take a combination of WTHS and RCSJ credits for their fall semester. However, students may not take more than 12 college credits to still be eligible for the program. During the spring semester of the bridge year, a student’s credits must be taken at RCSJ college. Any college credits are at the expense of the student and/or his/her parents. During their time at WTHS, the students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 (75 or higher) to be eligible to continue in the Bridge Year program.

Unlike the regular high school program, the Bridge Year does not require students to participate in health, safety, and physical education courses. However, the student must exit their senior year having met all graduation requirements in order to maintain eligibility for the bridge year program the following year, just as a senior that is not participating in the program is required to do.

Any students participating in the Bridge Year program must be 19 years of age or younger throughout the entirety of the Bridge year. While the age restriction on the Bridge year students remains at 19 or younger, disabled students participating in the program are eligible to participate at 20 years old due to services provided to them under their IEP (Individualized education program).

At the completion of the Bridge Year, students will receive their diplomas, and they’ll be able to go off to college or begin their career just as any other senior would after high school.

Students participating in the Bridge Year are also eligible to participate in extracurricular activities sanctioned by the high school, as long as they pay any fees/dues made by those programs. The only prohibition on students participating in activities is on fall and winter sports held by the NJSIAA.