S.T.R.I.V.E.-ing for the future at GJHS

By: Lisa McDivitt Email
By: Lisa McDivitt Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A brand new program at Grand Junction High School is striving to help get students into college.

It's modeled after a program that's been successful for more than 20 years. We introduced you to AVID a few weeks ago - that's a college–prep program that's helped students get ready for college since it started in San Diego in 1980.

Grand Junction High School didn't have the funds to do AVID at their school, but the concepts of college prep aren't limited to one program, so teachers started their own.

"I just want to pass all my classes and I want to have really good grades. Really, really good grades," says Dylin Cruz, a freshman at Grand Junction High School. She’s one of 25 students who are part of STRIVE, which stand for Students Taking Responsibility In Valuing Education.

The in–house program was founded by three teachers at the school.

They were looking to help students who meet certain criteria – including students whose parents didn't go to college or who are part of minority groups typically underrepresented in college.

"We feel that this is the group that needs the most assistance or the most support," says Justin Whiteford, one of the founding teachers of STRIVE.

The program is rigorous, and the students are driven.

"A lot of the kids have passion, they want to go to school," says Whiteford.

"I really want to get into college and I really want to make a statement,” says Cruz. “I want people to know my name for helping the world or something."

As part of STRIVE, students have to keep up good grades. They're required to attend tutorial sessions, and take extensive notes.

"They have to be good or else you'll fail the class," says Cruz.

So far, STRIVE seems to be paying off.

Grade point averages for the students have increased two percentage points since their previous school year, and 90 percent of them now have all A's and B's.

By their senior year, everyone hopes the program will pay off even more.

"When a kid comes in, you work hard, you're dedicated... you're going to go on to Mesa," says Whiteford.

Grand Junction High School has partnered with Mesa State, which has agreed to provide financial help to those who qualify, when they’re ready for college.

Mesa State also has a built–in support system of educational and career counseling students can take advantage of throughout their college career.

"It's just having someone to lean on. They have you buckled down from the first day of school," says Cruz.

But STRIVE hasn't just changed the way these students approach school each day.

"As teachers, it's made us more passionate now because we look forward to these classes – you know how much they appreciate it," says Whiteford.


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