AVID: College prep and team-work pep

By: Lisa McDivitt Email
By: Lisa McDivitt Email

For the third year in a row one local high school is helping students create a brighter future.

It's through the AVID program, and 78 percent of students who use it head off to college, and most of them actually finish their undergraduate degree.

"I thought it was going to be a bunch of kids in a class... like a regular class. But we're like a family," says Ariana Mier, a junior at Central High School. She is one of nearly 270 students at Central High School who are enrolled in AVID.

Each day, an up-beat song plays out over the loudspeaker before school starts at Central. And just as music helps motivate Central High students get ready for the day, the AVID program helps some kids get ready for college.

"It's actually designed to take the kid who's historically been viewed as the middle kid – the "B", "C" student – who teachers always viewed as having a little bit more potential," says Gary Johnson, one of Central’s AVID teachers.

Students have to apply to get into the program – and ideally begin in their freshman year.

AVID stands for advancement via individual determination, so students who get in need to be self–motivated.

"I've been thinking about trying to achieve college since my 6th grade year... I'm actually wanting to complete my doctorate," says Kissondra Willison, a junior at Central High School and member of the AVID program. When she applied during her 8th grade year, she had to tell the school why she thought she would be a good fit for the class.

Ariana has similarly set her mind on her goals for the future. "I told them that I wanted to be better organized, and I already know what I was going to do," says Ariana, who wants to be a special education teacher.

AVID students are taught time management, effective note taking and organization, but Johnson says that his goal is not just to place students in the perfect college.

"Reaching your own potential is my ultimate goal," says Johnson.

Unlike some schools in California that use AVID, the Central High School program is paid for through District 51's general funds.

"It isn't just a stand–alone program,” says Johnson. “AVID starts perpetuating itself throughout the school."

AVID students gain skills in writing, inquiry, reading and collaboration. But as those who are part of the program say, it's about more than just the school work.

Kissondra says the people in the class are her favorite part of AVID.

“It’s really a community,” says Johnson.

“We’re like a family,” says Ariana.

AVID was created 30 years ago in California, and is currently used in 4,000 schools in 45 states throughout the country.

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