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Bridge Academy (Grades 4-6)

Purpose Statement: The Bridge Academy (grades 4-6) exists to help students develop responsibility and independence in their work, build healthy relationships with others, and understand their identity in Christ and how they can be involved in His work.

Theme verse: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Group pic 1Faculty and Staff took a break from their work preparing for the year ahead to view the eclipse!  Several students came out to join Mr. Smallman, GCA’s resident Astronomy expert, as the Gator team watched the eclipse using viewing glasses and a telescope outfitted with a solar lens.

Special thank you to Dr. Barbara Buckner, Educator and Development Specialist for NASA, for the solar eclipse viewing glasses, and to the NASA grant program administered by University of Virginia for the high-powered telescope!




Mr. SmallmanGunnar and IanTillPitzerFriends SmallerCollegiate students



Summer ReadingSummer is a great time to dive into a good book!  Whether it’s at the beach, next to the pool, or before a much later than usual bedtime, summer reading helps students start the school year strong next Fall.  Click here for Summer Reading materials by grade levels.




Lower School Classroom AwardTo mark the end of the school year in the Foundations and Bridge Academies, separate award ceremonies were held to acknowledge and recognize the many achievements of our students. In addition to the hard-won awards such as Highest academic average, perfect attendance, and spelling bee champ, students’ God-given spiritual gifts were recognized.

The Diligence Award, the Mind of Christ Award, the Sunshine Award, the Good Samaritan Award, the Quill Award, the Encourager Award, the Quick Wit Award, the Thorough Thinker Award, the Integrity Award, the Inquisitive Spirit Award, the Happy Heart Award and the Songbird Award were a few of the many awards paying tribute to the very special spiritual gifts each student has been given by God. It is a joy to see each student grow throughout the year and to see strengths and gifts come to light.

As we close out the year in our Lower School, we reflect on the many students and families we have served and praise God for another successful year. We will continue to pray over the summer for God’s blessing and protection on all of our Gator families, past and present, and look forward to seeing everyone again in the fall!

6th Commissioning ArtworkOn June 7th, Bridge Academy Principal, Mrs. Tracy Cox, spoke to rising 6th graders, families, and friends in a commissioning ceremony. Similar to the commissioning of a newly built ship, the ceremony served as a way to acknowledge students' readiness to move forward into the Collegiate Academy with a sense of purpose.

Two recent graduates from the GCA Class of 2017 spoke to students during the commissioning ceremony. Morgan Ragsdale encouraged rising 6th graders to keep a larger perspective as they begin their Collegiate years. Sharing from his own experiences, Morgan went on to say successes and failures over the next few years will be empty without Jesus being the main focus of life; that with Jesus, those successes and failures will be worthwhile because they are part of a larger purpose. Alternatively, Morgan pointed out, without Jesus at the center of life, there will be emptiness even with great success.

Fellow Class of 2017 graduate Bailey Riddick likened students’ progression to the Collegiate Academy as an adventure and wisely reminded students that all adventurers need to be equipped! Bailey laid out a three-and-a-bonus step plan to help students succeed! Step One: Let God be first in your life and your foundation in everything you do; Lean on God in all you do and He will direct your steps. Step Two: Find leaders and teachers who will guide you and strengthen you both academically and spiritually. Bailey added, students will have no problem finding teachers in the Collegiate Academy waiting to help build them up and prepare them for the adventures ahead! Step Three: Be yourself and be a friend; Never let others dictate who you are or what you should be to “fit in.” Bailey’s bonus tip: Be a risk taker; try something new and step out in faith!

Principal Cox shared the class verse, Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" and challenged students to remember we live in a selfish world but our Savior modeled humility in giving up his status and power as a deity and becoming man to serve each and every one of us! Principal Cox encouraged students to enter their next educational phase with this in mind and strive to imitate the humility of Christ in being selfless and caring toward one another.

Each student was presented with a plaque featuring original artwork created by art teacher Mrs. Cheryl Leader, inspired by the class verse. The ceremony concluded with students being joined by their families for a special prayer over the class.

Congratulations to the class of 2023! We are excited to watch you continue your walk with God at GCA!

To conclude a unit on the global economy and the interdependence of countries in supplying goods and services around the world, our sixth grade students held an International Trade Fair!

Student-teams were assigned a country to represent and tasked with identifying a real-world export from that country to sell at the trade fair.  The team collaborated to design display items and marketing material for their trade fair sales presentation.   

Students gathered in the cafeteria and acted as trade representatives from their country, attempting to sell their export to our 5th graders, who represented potential customers and visited each display before making a purchasing decision!

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Sixth graders visited the Learning Barge to see a working eco-system up close and personal and learn about the Elizabeth River watershed!

From The Learning Barge, Elizabeth River Project:

The Elizabeth River Project's Dominion Virginia Power LEARNING BARGE is the world's first floating wetland classroom and America's Greenest Vessel. It's a "steward ship," teaching students of the river environmental stewardship actions and showing how to make the Elizabeth River healthier! 

Powered by sun and wind and equipped with live wetlands, an enclosed classroom, composting toilets and a rainwater filtration system, the 120 by 32 foot Learning Barge is designed to both model and teach ecology and sustainability to the next generation of lower Chesapeake Bay stewards. The mission is making restoration of the Elizabeth River a reality.

Students learn by doing aboard the award-winning steel deck barge with live wetlands designed by the University of Virginia and owned and operated by The Elizabeth River Project. The barge is a unique and powerful living laboratory for students to learn about river science, the Elizabeth River watershed, ecosystem, stewardship and restoration efforts. As America’s Greenest Vessel, her “green” design demonstrates sustainable practices for home and school. Students come aboard thinking globally and leave equipped to make a difference in their community.

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