Kiwanis meeting is host to AVID kids

By Carolyn Barbre

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is in its seventh year at Lindsay High School. At the April 15 Kiwanis Club meeting in the Lindsay Veterans Memorial Building, LHS Principal Mike Henson proudly showed off two plaques the school received because of the success of the AVID program.

One plaque was for being a "Certified with Distinction School" for meeting 11 criteria. Only 17 schools in California received this award. The other plaque was a recognition by AVID of LHS as a "National Certified School" for two consecutive years, 2002 and 2003. Henson said very few schools in the nation have received this recognition. Lindsay High School has between 110 and 115 students in AVID.

"I get a whole lot of credit for a whole lot of other people. I'm very fortunate," Henson told the Kiwanis. He said the children in AVID have issues with poverty and are English language learners. "We are far exceeding any school like us in AVID," he said.

Kathy Shiro was the first class head for AVID. Shiro explained that AVID is support structured for students in the middle, which is to say, not the best and brightest self-motivated students and not the below average students. AVID started in San Diego 25 years ago. "It works because it takes students who might be low achieving if left on their own, because they don't have an adult to support them. Parents want what is best, but maybe they didn't finish high school and their English is limited."

In recruiting for AVID Shiro said they are looking for students with a 2.0 to 3.5 GPA, students with college potential if they have the support. They have to have test scores that are passing or borderline and desire and determination. The profile is that they come from the lower socio-economic groups and have a language barrier.

If the student elects to become a part of the AVID program, they must give up electives like band or art and enroll in an intensive set of courses that prepare them for the toughest curriculum in the toughest colleges. Students learn explicit skills for success in more rigorous courses. They have also been given tutorials in core subjects, however at the present time, LHS is short on tutors.

Shiro said the acronym "SLANT" reminds them how to be good students: Sit in front, Lean forward, give Attention to the teacher, Nod and be involved during instruction, and Talk to the teacher.

The teacher's role is redefined as that of student advocate. "Its very dear to my heart after seven years to see the success personally," Shiro said. "We have become a family unit. One of the ideas is that we act like a parent on campus."

There were also two students present to share their AVID experience. The first to speak was Noe Orosco. "AVID helped me consider a four-year university, not just a JC," he told the Kiwanis. Orosco said his parents came from Mexico and did not graduate high school. He said he has two older siblings, one at COS and one who attended Fresno State.

Orosco confessed that he struggled most with chemistry and trigonometry. "The tutorial helped me pass," he said.

Keeping a planner is part of the AVID program. "At first I didn't like it, but now I find that it helps keep me organized," Orosco said. He has been accepted at five state schools. He plans to study physiology and/or psychology.

Laura Jimenez, who has been in AVID all four years of high school and is one of the attendants for the 2004 OBF Queen, said her parents emigrated from Mexico with very little education. She said two of her four older sisters went to junior college, but didn't stay the course. "AVID prepared me with pre-SATs and test taking." Jimenez said she struggled with trig her junior year. "Being with other students really helped me. I'm a group learner."

Jimenez also credited AVID for helping her become organized. "I manage my time more efficiently," she said. Jimenez was accepted at five state schools. She will be attending UC Santa Cruz. She has completed nine scholarship applications. "AVID has really helped me throughout my high school career and I'm really hoping to get more help," she said.

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