LHS AVID program receives honor

By Nancy Gutierrez

Only 34 of the 17,000 schools nation-wide involved in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, have received a certificate of distinction for meeting the highest goals of the program.

Wednesday at a special meeting, Lindsay High School was presented with a certificate as one of those elite 43 by AVID's founder Mary Katheryn Swanson.

Avid is an in-school academic support program for students in fifth through 12th grade, that prepares students for college eligibility and courses. The program places students who are performing at an average level academically in advanced classes. A goal of the program is to level the playing field for minority, rural, low-income and other students who may be the first in their family to attend college.

"AVID really makes you believe in the youth of today," LHS AVID coordinator Kathy Schiro said. "We are taking students who are maybe the first to graduate from high school or go to college and showing that they have the motivation to go to college, but they need academic support."

The Lindsay program was honored because of their high success rate. There are stringent requirements that must be met before receiving a certificate of distinction. All of the Seniors involved in the program must take the SAT or ACT. Seniors must have completed all of the academic requirements for college and students must have taken AP classes. Students usually start AVID as freshman and continue in the program until their senior year. One teacher is assigned to a class and acts as their advocate and guide throughout their high school career.

"You have to build a good rapport with and take a personal interest in the student," advising teacher Frank Schiro said.

Schiro's class provided the academic success that qualified LHS for the award. Of the 29 students in his AVID class 9 were accepted to a University of California and 20 to a California State University. What is significant is Lindsay achieved this honor with its second group of AVID students. Avid students are monitored as a class from thier freshman year until they graduate.

"It shows the real work that takes place day to day in Lindsay," Regional Coordinator Pam McGee said.

Proponents of the program stress that AVID is not a remedial or niche program but rather a support program that is utilized nationwide. AVID site teams are based on the notion that the success of students is a shared responsibility. Swanson created the program for students who have the right to choose to go to college but not the background to get them there.

"five-hundred Latino and African american students were bused in to a San Diego high school," she said. "The high school was very academic and the faculty was not used to teaching students who were English language learners and whose parents had not graduated high school or college."

Swanson decided to do something to prepare those students for college and provide them with a choice to do so.

"We recruited students who wanted to get through school but didn't know how to do it with excellence," she said.

Swanson said 77 percent of AVID students go on to attend a four-year college and 17 percent enroll in two-year institutions. There are 125 students involved in the AVID program at LHS. Schiro said she hopes to recruit enough students and teachers to have two groups from each class involved in the program.

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