School competition builds bridges – literally and figuratively

By Barbara Silverstein

The cheers were loud and the excitement was palpable as students from six Jewish day schools participated in the inaugural Gesher Chai Bridge Building Competition.

A combined group of 60 students from Bialik Hebrew Day School, Robbins Hebrew Academy, Associated Hebrew Schools, Netivot HaTorah Day School, Leo Baeck Day School, and the Goldwater School in Eilat met at Bialik’s Viewmount campus March 15 for a contest that required them to utilize their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.

The students – there were 14 teams – had to build the strongest bridge they could out of popsicle sticks and wire. The structures were judged on both strength and design.

The event enabled “students to build bridges both literally and figuratively,” said Amy Platt, Bialik’s director of general studies. The competition was her brainchild.

“While the children were literally building physical bridges, they were also creating figurative bridges by establishing relationships with the Israeli students, and in the process, they were strengthening their ties to Israel,” she said.

Platt noted that bridge building was also taking place between the students from the different day schools. “They have had the opportunity to talk to kids from other schools. The schools represent the various divisions in the community… It’s nice to see all these kids coming together with a common interest and common excitement.”

This figurative bridge also extended to the Bialik school families who hosted the Israeli students, said head of school Shana Harris. Many of these parents attended the contest to cheer on “their Israeli kids.”

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