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Students explain how AVID program prepares them to learn

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GIBSONTON - Earlier this month students at middle and high schools across the county made displays at their schools for parents and interested others to see just what the AVID Program is about.


Penny Fletcher Photos Crystal Goodwin, president of the AVID Club at East Bay High School and instructor Mark Beard, who heads the program at that school, show some of the digital photographs that have been taken at colleges the students have visited this year.
On AVID District Awareness Day April 6 I was hosted through the program at East Bay High School by the school’s AVID coordinator Mark Beard and AVID Club president, Crystal Goodwin.

The first two things I wanted to know was what the acronym AVID stands for and how the “program” given in class is different from the AVID Club.

Learning about the acronym, which stands for Advancement via Individual Determination, could be accomplished quickly but the intricacies of the program were very detailed and took quite some time to explain.

AVID is offered to middle and high school students who meet certain criteria. Its mission is to ensure that students with potential to attend college but might not because of having only average grades, or perhaps not having families that have experience in college preparation, get the training they need so they can attend college or university if they work hard enough.

It is offered in 4,000 schools in 45 states and 15 countries, in both large and small schools, urban and rural. In Hillsborough County, all high schools and middle schools and even some elementary schools have taken it on.

avid2The Avid Club, however, is made up of a leadership group that has elected offices, and makes decisions about what kind of activities will be held and what colleges and universities they might like to tour using the money they make holding fundraisers. It is the planning arm of the program in each school and works closely with the members of the school’s staff that coordinate the program there.

At East Bay, the coordinator is Mark Beard with the help of another teacher, Remy Ferrario. But it was clear that students make a lot of the decisions about what they need and how they’re going to accomplish filling those needs.

First off, I learned students must apply to become a part of AVID. It isn’t just assigned like a regular class.

Students with very high grades usually aren’t encouraged to apply unless they have organizational handicaps; bad study habits; or other reasons that might hold them back from doing their best work.

I found that learning good study skills is at the top of the East Bay group’s list.

avid4They showed me an application for students to fill out to receive tutoring, and explained that they offer each other help in math, English, social studies and science. They’re encouraged to work both collaboratively and alone. Some of the methods they employ are keeping organized binders with a place for everything that can be easily and quickly determined; keeping proper Cornell notes, which is a certain way of note-taking that ensures better study; how to discuss, using all sides of an argument, and that it’s OK to change positions if persuaded during discussion. This philosophical thinking is similar to debate but is also about learning to argue peacefully while keeping an open mind. Some of the things they discuss regularly are whether having school uniforms is a good or bad idea; whether physical education is important in all four years of high school; and ways of handling alcohol and drug use they may encounter among friends.

Students have held bake sales and car washes, although they get some money from school funds toward visiting Florida colleges they might choose to attend. These trips are recorded and photographs have been posted both on line and on posters, showing the schools and what each who visited learned about them on their trip.

Noelani Sanders and Karina Martinez, both sophomores, have been AVID members since 8th Grade.

They said they have been to eight or nine colleges which has given them a perspective they couldn’t have gotten from a brochure.


Students from Eisenhower Middle School that have just started in the AVID program toured the tables at East Bay March 6 to see what’s in store for them once they get to high school.
“You really get the feel of it because you’re right there,” Noelani said.

Besides the car washes and bake sales, the students put on a dance for Eisenhower middle schoolers last year that put some money in their fund.

Mark said he sees the rewards every day. “Maybe it’ll be the first one in a family that goes to college, or someone who works his or her way into honors classes,” he said. “I know it is making a difference in their lives.”

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