A Thousand Oaks charter school takes pride in students’ individuality and embraces the arts as a critical pathway to knowledge.

Bridges has about 380 students in grades K-8.

Each year, teachers assign “passion projects” for students in grades six, seven and eight. The semester-long effort encourages self-exploration and strengthens research skills in students based on their passions or hobbies.

“Academics is important and so is having a strong sense of self,” said teacher Rebekah Schletewitz, an educator at Bridges for 10 years.

In September, about 90 students began selecting their projects, researching, setting weekly goals and documenting reflections to stay on track before finishing and presenting their projects to their classmates this month.

On a recent Thursday, about nine students highlighted their final projects for the Acorn in a walk-through display.

Among the presentations was one from a student who likes fantasy and created a land filled with trolls based on Scandinavian mythology. Another student, interested in architectural engineering, made a detailed Lego model of a building in Austin, Texas.

One adolescent studied facial structures while another built a large shifting maze inspired by Greek mythology.

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