AVID: Advancement Via Individual Determination

Haley Bunnell, Staff Writer

     AVID flyers fill the walls, and AVID T-shirts are worn by many students. Still it seems like the only people who have heard or know, are the students in the class. The goal of this program is to help students who have the potential to succeed, but are either economically disadvantaged, or lack the necessary information about the college application process.

     “AVID targets students in the academic middle whose parents may not have gone to college, so their parents might not know how to help them to get into college,” AVID coordinator Aimee Ratliff said. “Also, the whole point of taking AVID is so that they can experience rigor now, in high school, and be challenged and realize that with support they can do it. So that when they go to college, they will be prepared.”

     The number of students has doubled over the last year in this national program. One student two years ago became the first AVID student to graduate, and eight additional students received their diploma last year.

     “A typical week in the AVID classroom goes like this: On Mondays and Wednesdays we may focus on time management, learning styles or PSAT practice,” Ratliff said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays are our tutorials where UTD student come in and teach. And Fridays we may have a guest speaker, have team builder activities or continuations with Monday and Wednesday’s work.”

     In addition to the class, there are tutorials before and after school, as well as some community service activities.

     “AVID really helped me better myself and be more active,” vice president of AVID club junior Titiana Wonzer said. “If it wasn’t for AVID, I wouldn’t be participating in any extracurricular activities, or being a leader.”

      Students are in this program for a variety of different reasons. Vice-president junior Marcus Peters had struggled with organization skills, and had difficulty focusing in class in order to keep his grades up before he was in this class. Through the five years that Peters has been in the program, he has not only grown academically but he is now more prepared for the college environment, and knows how to study more effectively and take notes efficiently.

     Other students may have joined AVID because they didn’t have the opportunities to meet the right people, or visit colleges.

      “If I wasn’t in AVID, I wouldn’t have the extra motivation that this class adds. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am preparing for college or asking questions about scholarships,” AVID club president senior Arturo Acuna said. “AVID also has put me on a more focused road on to where I want to go. When before I didn’t know where the exact steps or processes I need to take to prepare for college.”

     This school is filled with students with different backgrounds, and struggling home lives which can lower a students’ motivation to do school work, or not have the resources from their parents in order to keep going. Acuna and the other president of AVID club, senior Tara Golhashem both share a similar goal to achieve: to be the first in their immediate family to graduate from high school.

     “I was born in Iran. Which in their society men go to work and women clean,” Golhashem said. “So my parents didn’t get the opportunity to graduate. That’s why we came to America so that I could have an opportunity to have a better future.”

     Acuna’s parents had a similar struggle to continue in schooling. His mother gave birth to him in Mexico and needed to take care of him while his father worked. So both of his parents did not have the time to continue schooling. When he came to America he was motivated to graduate.

      Because both AVID club presidents had no resource to stay motivated, AVID has pushed them in the right direction. Both of these students take action in their class filling out applications, visiting high schools, getting scholarships, and just working hard academically and socially in order to graduate.

     “I not only have pride to be the first one, but I also want to show that I am not only going to college, but I am going to be successful in college too,” Golhashem said.

    This college program teaches students study habits, organization, and to set goals students can achieve.

     “A lot of people think AVID is for stupid people, which it isn’t. It is for people that want to have a future and want to be successful,” Golhashem said. “I want other people to join to see that it just takes a load off of you. And it’s more of a family than anything.”